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How YOU can reduce, reuse, and recycle with ease!

Have you realized that nobody is coming to save us?! The Earth is struggling to survive, Mother Nature is obviously pissed off, and we are leaving a mess for the next generation to deal with.


Each of us, individually, needs to become more mindful of our own impact on the environment. You really can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem if you are willing to make a small shift in your daily habits.


Most of Americans know to use reusable bags and have a water bottle to help reduce single-use plastics but that only does so much. Plastic takes about 500 years to break down so the build-up we have now is only the beginning if we don't change our ways.



Now that I have been making ecobricks from my own daily trash, I am highly aware of just how much garbage I create on a daily basis!


An ecobrick is a way to preserve plastic trash in a way that creates a building brick that you can make furniture, garden walls, and homes with. There are ecobrick projects all over the world you could help donate your bottles to or you could create your own mini-project in your backyard.


By storing the plastic inside the bottle, it ensures that the garbage will not end up polluting our environment and that it will not break down into microplastics that can end up damaging our health and having serious consequences.


We are using our bottles to help build homes for those living in severe poverty! What would YOU create out of ecobricks?! Here is a great resource for ideas and where to find projects you could donate your bottles to.


There are three different types of ecobricks that you can create with your plastic waste:

  • Standard Ecobrick

  • Ocean Ecobrick

  • CigBrick


Standard Ecobrick

The standard ecobrick requires everything you put in the bottle to be clean and dry. This is because dirt and food residues can create bacteria that could produce methane gas and cause the bottle to explode. For most food packaging, you can either wash it and put it in the dishrack or out in the sun to dry OR you can turn the packaging inside out and wipe it down with a paper towel or a damp sponge.


You will want to pick a standard-size bottle that you will use for the whole project as it will be more complicated to build with a variety of sizes. Because we are doing a massive project here in El Salvador, we are accepting any bottle sizes and will make it work but if you were building a garden wall or play table for the kids, pick one size!

  1. Start your bottle by using a soft plastic bag like the kind you get from the grocery store. This will make sure all the indentations at the bottom of the bottle are filled. You can also color-coordinate your bags if the bottle end is going to show in your final project.

  2. After the initial layer is in, you can start layering soft and hard plastics in the bottle.

  3. Continually push and compact everything down to the bottom of the bottle and ensure there are no gaps anywhere.

  4. Once you are running out of space you can finish with more soft plastics like shopping bags and shipping materials to fill the bottle completely.

  5. Put the lid back on and weigh it to make sure it is the right density to be used for building with.


Ocean Eco Brick


Ocean Eco Bricks (OEB) are a great way to help clean up your beach. Litter and plastics you find on the beach are often dirty and may be slightly damp which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This means you don't want to seal them up in a bottle! Since it would be a little annoying to bring all the trash from the beach home with you to wash and dry it, there is a different technique you can use!

An OEB is essentially two PET bottles, cut, packed with plastic, then sealed bottom to bottom. By cutting a bottle’s top off, one creates a wide opening for packing the chunky, large and solid plastics found on the beach.

For the lining of the bottom and the top of the OEB a soft plastic is used to give the bottom a color. Ideally both the top and bottom of the OEB are given the same color. This adds the ability to create designs and patterns in OEB building applications.

A simple bamboo stick is then used to pack the bottle as full and as solid as possible of ocean plastic. Once the bottom is 80% complete, the top is lined with soft plastic, then packed 30% full. Packing any more than this will make it difficult to join the top and bottom together later. When both sides are complete you insert one bottle into the other to seal it. Some people use silicone to apply a partial seal and make it more secure but it isn't necessary. It will not be airtight, but that is the point! As long as it is solid and the right density, it is ready to use.


Normal ecobricks are the best way to deal with our daily plastic. Compared to regular ecobricks, Ocean Ecobricks are more wasteful, fragile, and much less elegant than regular Ecobricks. They are not ideal for making milstein modules – mainly for earth and ecobrick constructions.

In other words, making an ecobrick by packing your own clean and dry plastic into an uncut bottle is ideal! Ocean ecobricks miss out on the most value aspect of ecobricking: that of taking personal responsibility for our plastic.

Also, unlike normal ecobricks, OEB’s generate waste in their making. Bottles must be cut, and the bottle tops and caps are left over. (Note that even though cut, the tops and caps can still be recycled. PET and HDPE are the most sought after plastics. In most South East Asian countries these will be collected by recyclers. Simply pack bottle cuttings into an intact PET bottle, cap and recycle.) The caps can also be used for a variety of art projects.

Ocean Ecobricks are therefore ideal for communities near oceans, lakes, or river shores that are overloaded with plastic. If you are doing a beach cleanup, this is a great way to make sure the plastic never comes back and can be used for something beneficial.



CigBrick


A CigBrick is made entirely of cigarette butts. One cigarette butt contaminates 200 liters of water! You can fit nearly 2000 cigarette butts into a bottle and that alone could keep 400,000 liters of water clean. All you put in these plastic bottles is the acetate filter of the cigarette so you will need to remove any ash, tobacco, and paper. The paper will deteriorate over time which would leave gaps in the bottle. Make sure you push everything down with a stick as you go to compact it and that is it!


If you are ready to start making ecobricks, I highly recommend getting registered online with an ecobrick account. This can allow you to find a local project to donate to and everytime you log a new ecobrick you can track the amount of plastic you have saved from damaging our environment.


Right now, we are working on helping more people in our community learn about ecobricks to help shift the way our neighborhood deals with trash and to have more building materials for our project.


We are also working on getting the local school involved so we can start educating the younger generation, which we know can have a ripple effect on their parents and grandparents as well. We have created a 12-page manual for the teachers that will help guide them.


We hope this has given YOU a new way to handle your plastic pollution. It really is just a small shift in your daily habits. The way we do it at home is to have the bottle with the stick in it sitting in the kitchen at all times, but we don't always use it immediately. Let's be real, you don't always make time to clean your food packaging when you are running around juggling responsibilities. So we have a little container that we can stash the bags and wrappers in until we do have the time to clean them and add them to the bottle.


If you have any questions, please let us know! We need as many bottles as we can get to help build homes for those living in severe poverty. If you are in El Salvador, please consider making this positive shift on the impact you are making on the environment and contribute your ecobricks to our cause.



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