Easy ways to live a more sustainable life - Tip 4 - EcoBricking

My latest change in the #SimpleChangeForTheBetter series is to look at our single use plastic waste streams and how we can turn non-recyclable plastics into something useful without them ending up in the sea or landfill.

So, Ecobricks. I must admit this is a concept I wasn’t familiar with until my sister mentioned she had starting saving plastics that couldn’t be recycled and stuffing them into bottles.  My interest perked up further when a friend, a primary school teacher by profession told me how he had got his class producing them, over 300 in 3 weeks!

Said friend, teaches in quite a deprived area and it got me thinking about the power of this initiative. Essentially a way of turning something potentially harmful for the planet into something durable, reusable and valuable, especially for communities where recycling programs are not advanced.

The meditative, reflective benefit for young children is truly immense. Impressionable minds considering their own families waste production and taking ownership of it themselves is valuable on so many levels.

Environmental and Sustainability - Tip 4 – Ecobricking

I have started creating Ecobricks at home and the amount of waste you can pack into a 2-litre bottle is incredible and it really focuses the mind on how to reduce personal waste. I didn’t actually realise how much plastic waste was not currently recyclable. My 5-year olds have been really interested to watch what I am doing and it’s a great way of showing them by doing rather than telling.

What you do is look at plastic that’s not recyclable. That’s things like the film that surrounds packaging so things like inside your cereal packets and packaging that goes over food (this will need cleaning of food residue first).

You need to look at the packaging label to see what can be recycled and what can’t, it will generally tell you the different parts.  If it doesn’t say then you can take it that it isn’t recyclable.

The plastic can then be shoved into a single use plastic bottle and filled until there is no air in there at all and it is solid.  The Ecobricks can then be used as building materials!

There are various eco-projects that are looking to incorporate these as insulation and solid bricks to build a variety of things such as furniture, walls and even full buildings! More information can be found at www.ecobricks.org

This is a really practical way of creating a circular economy through waste disposal.

WIN-WIN

In the UK we are failing to recycle 3 Billion of the 13 billion plastic bottles we produce each year.  Even more scary is that only 3rd of our total plastic food container waste is being recycled at all.

Ecobricking is being employed in a lot of countries which don’t have decent recycling programmes but it shows that there is a need for this more and more in the UK.

Here’s a quick guide of how to make an Ecobrick, with more information found on the ecobricks.org website here

Check out these practical uses of Ecobricks:

Here are some more useful links about how to make ecobricks, where to take them and groups that can help get you involved.

How to make

https://wasteaid.org/toolkit/mobile/plastic-bottles-ecobricks/

Where to log your ecobricks and drop them off

https://www.gobrik.com

https://www.gobrik.com/#com-exchange/

Facebook group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ecobricksUK/

A Game Changing idea?

This concept of circularity got me really thinking. Imagine if bottles were designed to interlock with each other. Not only would it save space for transportation, they could be easily turned into larger solid structures and packed with non-biodegradable, non-recyclable plastics.

I’m calling on all the big brands to make this a reality - Evian, Volvic, Harrogate Spring Water, Aquafina, Coca-Cola, Glaceu etc, make your bottles using this simple interlocking concept and do something more than you are to help be part of the solution.

Maybe there is even an opportunity for someone like lego to get involved in the packaging market and make more of our plastics reusable. There are loads of solutions out there to the worlds current problems, we just need creative people and the support of big corporations and government.

Summary

I have found this a real eye opener on what can be achieved using materials that would normally end up in landfill or the sea.  There is so much positive that can come from this circular economy idea. Yes, there needs to be a reduction in non-recyclable plastic making in general.  But this is a great way to combat the issues at this current time.

Ease rating 1 (1 being easy to adopt 5 being hard)

Total savings from changes so far:

  • Cold Showers = 464kw/hours and £68 per year
  • Using own Coffee cup = 260 less cups into landfill and £78 per year
  • Cycling to work = 815Kg/CO2 and £326 per year.
  • Ecobricking = Hard to measure exact numbers but certainly a lot of single use plastic not going to landfill or the sea as waste!

Total money saved so far:

  • £472 per annum

Next change: Eliminating more plastic waste

A quick plug for what my business, we create WIN-WIN scenarios for organisations, reducing paper towel waste, costs and the associated carbon footprint. A study showed that 2 paper towels produce 15 grams of Co2, our hand dryers can reduce each dry to as little as 1 gram of co2 and save 98% cost. We help organisations finance the initial investment out of the savings, so there is no budget to be found. A complete win-win for your bottom line and the environment.


Andy needs your tips. Let us know in the comments what you have been doing so that we can look at trying them out as a team.

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Written by: Andrew Cameron

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