11.11 “Eco Brick”

I’ve learned about eco bricks from one of our activities in the office.  Basically, it’s a PET bottle (those commonly used in bottled water, tea, juice, etc.) which you fill with plastics.  When this bottle is full, it can be a raw material for use as a kid’s stool, or a brick for a wall, etc.

When I started doing it, I didn’t really appreciate it since it actually take a lot of plastics to fill one, but when I completed one and combined it with those of my peers (seven of the same bottle tied together makes a single stool for kids) and saw the end product, I was amazed! We can still make a useful product out of our trash! Imagine how much plastic you prevented from being dumped!  I read somewhere that 90% of all plastics ever made are still around and weren’t recycled so chances are, the plastic that you’re throwing out will only have a 10% chance of being recycled—90% chance that it will just end up in a landfill, or worse, out to the sea and kill countless sea creatures! Reducing the plastic we dispose really mean a lot for nature.

Making an eco brick is really simple.  You begin with a bottle and ensure that it’s clean and dry.  You do this to avoid odors that may arise from decomposing materials.  This may take a while in a humid environment as it takes a day or two to air dry a typical bottle.

Once you get your bottle completely dry, you start filling it with dry and clean plastics.  I figured that the easiest one that satisfies this criteria are packaging since they didn’t cake into contact with food or liquids.  Food packaging, or any plastic in this case, is OK as long as you clean and dry them properly to avoid odors.  I strongly suggest that you start with the same color of plastic so that the bottom of you bottle look more presentable.

Once you created a layer of the same color, you may add in the rest of your plastics.  As you fill it in, make sure you compress the plastics inside as much as you can.  This compression will give your bottle its strength.  You could use a long stick or anything similar to push the plastics down.  Continue doing so until you reach the brim.

To know if you compressed your water bottle enough, a 500 ml bottle should weigh around 700 g when full.  If yours is lighter, you still have room for more! Trust me, you can get a decent workout just pushing those plastics in to reach this weight!  If you reached this weight and you still have room, continue stuffing it until you can fit no more! Remember that the less gaps in your eco brick, the stronger it is.

As you will find out, it takes a lot of plastic just to fill a single 500 ml bottle! And there’s this sense of accomplishment once you complete one—you have prevented a lot of plastics from potentially polluting the environment, and you’re creating something good out of the waste that you generated.

Once you have filled seven similar bottles, you can combine them together by tying or gluing them to form a small stool that kids may use.  The bottom part of the bottles form the seat so if you kept the bottom layer a single color, you can control the color of your stool.  You could probably paint the bottles if you don’t think the sides are presentable enough or wrap them.  You can get more creative and stack more to reach a desired height, probably use them as legs for tables, etc. or simply use them as an alternative to bricks when making walls.  Or you can simply donate them to organizations that use them for their projects (see a list of drop off points here).

As I unwrapped each of the items I ordered online and accumulated all these plastics, I realized that I would like to minimize the risk that these plastics would be ingested and kill an unknowing living being.  These plastics also has my name, address, etc. stuck onto them and I would never dream that one day they may be found at the bottom of Marianas Trench for everyone to know whom it came from.  And that’s how I recalled our eco brick project and how it can at least reduce the chance of that happening.  Interestingly enough, I still have room in my first bottle despite the volume of plastics I already put in.  I guess this is for the bubble wraps that I haven’t finished popping yet?

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