Our family is always keen to try and lessen our eco footprint and very fortunate to live in a suburb that recycles. My mom recently read an article in a local magazine about ladies who were filling plastic 2 litre bottles with dry, clean non-recyclable plastic waste.
She decided why not, and found one of our empty soda bottles and starting cramming in every piece of plastic packaging we could find. You do not want to know how much plastic fits into a 2-litre plastic bottle. You can compress the plastic enormously using a dowel and even when it is full it is still surprisingly light. You know the bottle is full as it becomes very rigid and you can actually stand on it without it collapsing.
The exciting part is that these two litre bottles are used as an ecologically friendly building material and are known as EcoBricks.
The first EcoBricks were prototyped in Guatemala 23 years ago as an alternative building material. The idea was that it combats both pollution and poor infrastructure in communities. It’s also been used as building materials in places such as Mexico, Thailand and Peru.
Greyton in the Western Cape was the first town to use EcoBricks in South Africa for community gardens and local schools.
The EcoBricks are easy to make and then built into interlocking blocks that are easily assembled and provide a high insulation value. They fit together with the bottle tops acting as anchoring notches. When stacked together they can be plastered and used to construct boundary walls, garden features or low-cost housing.
Such a good idea as it gets rid of all that pesky plastic, provides a material which can be used by the poorest in our community, is great occupational therapy and can be done by the both young and old.
Currently residents of the Brown and Annie Lawrence and the Helen Keller Society in Pinelands are making bottle bricks to be used for a school building project in Delft.
If you want to give it a go, you can donate your plastic packed bottles at the Montebello Design Centre shop. The bottles are then collected from here by the EcoBrick Exchange.
People are always asking what they can do and as Braam Malherbe says, “Do one thing” and this is a thing I like!