Recently while researching ways to reduce plastic use, I came across Ecobricks. At first glance, Ecobricks seem like a simple way to stop non-recyclable soft plastics from ending up in landfill. But what actually are Ecobricks? What do we do with them? And are they solution we’ve all been waiting for or a distraction from what really matters? Find out all of this and more below.
- What are ecobricks?
- The pros and cons of ecobricks
- How to make an ecobrick
- How to make an ecobrick stool
- Ecobrick DIYs to plan
- Ecobrick projects around the world
- Where to drop off or donate ecobricks in the UK
What are ecobricks?
Ecobricks are plastic bottles filled with the types of plastic waste we can’t recycle. They can be used to build all sorts of things, and there are designs all over the web.
The Ecobrick movement came from a desire to allow people to take a personal responsibility for their plastic use. This is a project after my heart – people taking power and not relying on governments to sort the environment out for them. Because let’s face it, we haven’t been able to rely on them yet!
The pros and cons of ecobricks
By turning your bottles and soft plastics into ecobricks, you are taking waste out of landfill, preventing the need for further resources by using what you already have to hand to make things, and stopping soft plastics from harming wildlife by stopping them from flying off into the local biome.
However, detractors of ecobricks say that ecobricks do nothing to stem the flow of plastic use. Some go even further and say that ecobricks actually incentivise continued use of plastic by making something useful, and by taking recyclable plastic bottles out of the resource stream.
So, are ecobricks the plastic scourge solution we’ve all been waiting for? This blogger says no, but they are a valuable tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. The fact is, there is no one-stop solution to the plastic crisis. We need to reduce use, and in the meantime the plastics that still come through our homes must be put to good use. You could even use ecobricking to track your plastic use!
How to make an ecobrick
Let’s make our first ecobrick!
You’ll need: a long stick (not pointed), a plastic bottle, lots of soft plastic film, scissors
- Step One: set up your ecobricking station
I use the term “ecobricking station” loosely, but you need somewhere visible and easy to access that has everything you need to ecobrick to hand. I put my current ecobrick on top of my lidded kitchen bin with my stick in it with the scissors and bottle lid on top of the drawers next to it. Keeping everything together will help you stick to it.
- Step Two: stuff the ecobrick with plastics
Use the stick to stuff clean, dry plastics into the ecobrick, packing down firmly as you go. Cut larger pieces of plastic down to more manageable pieces to prevent little pockets of air forming. Those little pockets of air will stop you from being able to fit as much plastic in.
- Step Three: weigh, seal and use
Once you’ve packed the ecobrick to within an inch of its life, pop it on the scales. A perfect ecobrick will weigh 0.3g per ml that the bottle holds; so a 2l bottle will weigh 0.66kg. To seal, simply put the lid on tightly. Sign and date the ecobrick if you like!
How to make an ecobrick stool
The best way to make an ecobrick stool is with the hexagon Milstein Module. Silicone together 16 equally sized bottles in a hexagon shape. I find 2l bottles work well for a small stool, but if you’re using smaller bottles you can stack layers. Decorate however you like!
Note: Ecobrick furniture is only suitable for indoor use. If used outside, the plastic will break down and all of your hard work will be for nothing.
Ecobrick DIYs to plan
Ecobricks have been used to create everything from stools to garden planters to play areas. Here are a few suggestions:
- A foot stool
- A toy box
- A bench
- A desk
If you’ve made something with ecobricks, tell me about it on Twitter or in my Facebook group and I’ll link to it here!
Ecobrick projects around the world
I’ve collated a YouTube playlist full of ecobrick projects from all over. Watch this playlist to learn more about ecobrick projects in South Africa, the Philippines and more. If you want the video for your ecobrick project to be added to this playlist, tweet me the link and I’ll check it out!
Where to drop off or donate ecobricks in the UK
I’ve searched high and low and I can’t find any facility for exchanging or donating ecobricks in the UK – so I’ve started my own! If you want to get rid of your ecobricks, or are looking for ecobricks for a project, or want to show off your project, or anything else to do with ecobricks in the UK – do join my Facebook group Ecobrick Exchange UK.
Ecobricking is a great way to put an otherwise useless resource to use. If you’ve decided ecobricking is for you, join the group and share this post so other people can get in on it too!