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An ecobrick is a plastic bottle packed with plastic to a set density to create a reusable building block. Ecobricks are used to make modular furniture, garden spaces and full-scale buildings such as schools and houses. Ecobricks are a collaboration-powered technology that provides a zero-cost solid waste solution for individuals, as an Eco-Brick, a bottle brick, and Ecoladrillo, this local waste solution has come to be known as 'ecobricks' (non-hyphenated, and non-capitalized) by a growing movement of communities around the world.
The packing of plastic into bottles to make building blocks is a technique that has popped up organically around the world. Various simultaneous pioneers have helped shape the concept, methodology, techniques and application. The technique builds upon the bottle building techniques of German architect Andreas Froese (using sand-filled PET bottles) in South America in 2000. Alvaro Molina began packing plastic into bottles on the island of Ometepe in 2003. Susana Heisse, in Guatemala began to encourage ecobricking in 2014 as a building technique and for solving excess plastic challenges faced in Lake Atitlan communities.
In 2010, in the Northern Philippines, Russell Maier and Irene Bakisan developed a curriculum guide of simplified and recommended practices to help local schools integrate eco-bricks into their curriculum. Applying the ancestral ecological principles of the Igorots for building rice terraces, they integrated cradle-to-cradle principles into ecobrick methodology: ensuring that Eco-bricks can be reused at the end of the construction they are used in. Through the Department of Education, the guide distributed to 1700 schools in 2014.
The open source development of ecobrick best practices and innovations that emerged from the Filipino movement became the genesis for the Global Ecobrick Alliance in South Africa, Zambia, America, and most recently Indonesia. Movements in South Africa began in 2012, when American Joseph Stodgel brought the concept to the small town of Greyton, throwing an annual Trash to Treasure festival at the local dumpsite with South African, Candice Mostert, who started local school projects under Greyton transition town building with the bricks made by the community. The movement has since grown in South Africa, with organizations like Waste-ED, founded by Candice Mostert, who works both in Zambia and Cape Towns surrounds to educate people about plastic and its value, and the architect Ian Dommisse as the Ecobrick Exchange.
An ecobrick is made of a plastic bottle or container of some sort (including paper/laminate milk cartons) which has random plastic waste compressed inside it. Generally, a stick is used to stuff the rinsed and dried bottle densely layer by layer with non-biodegradable waste. Any size of plastic bottle can be used to make an Ecobrick, but the most appropriate bottle to use was found to be of size 500 ml. It's easier to pack and less force is required from the stick to compact the plastic into the bottle. Food packaging needs to be clean and dry to avoid the growth of bacteria. The best method is to start packing the waste in little by little and alternating between adding the plastic and compacting it with the stick. While compacting with the stick the bottle needs to be rotated while pressing down to ensure that the waste is evenly compacted throughout the bottle. This helps ensure that the bottle does not have any voids and has solid properties similar to a concrete block. Completed ecobricks should weigh 220 g and be stuffed so densely that they can bear the weight of a person without deforming.
Context for EcobrickingEdit
Plastics are made from petrochemicals. These chemicals don't fit back into the ecologies around us. Scientific studies show that these chemicals are toxic to humans — we know this when we smell plastics burning. Eventually, plastics that are littered, burned or dumped degrade into these poisonous chemicals. Over time, these chemicals leach into the land, air and water, and are absorbed by plants and animals. Eventually, they reach us, causing congenital disabilities, hormonal imbalances, and cancer. Even engineered dump sites are not a solution. Whether it is ten years, or one hundred, these chemicals will eventually seep into the biosphere, which may then in turn affect human health.
A tremendous amount of plastic waste litters our planet every year, and its cost is huge. According to the UNEP 2014 Yearbook, plastic contamination threatens marine life, tourism, fisheries and businesses and the overall natural capital cost for plastic waste is $75 billion each year. Since plastics don't biodegrade but photodegrade, plastics in the fields or water just break down into small pieces. Plants and animals then absorb these toxic pieces and enter the human food chain. When the toxic materials are in the human food chain it may then lead to fatal consequences such as cancer and birth defects.
PET bottles will last for 300–500 years if they are kept from sunlight. When packed tightly with other non-biodegradables, they make a versatile building block that can be used over and over for building. They also become time capsules for future generations.
- In the village of Besao in the Northern Philippines, hospital custodian Jane Liwan set about packing one eco-brick a day to revamp her ailing home that her neighbors had been ridiculing. Two years later her home is a tourist attraction that has been featured in both local and national media.
- On the isolated volcano island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, Alvaro Molina, distraught by the plastic waste that had nowhere to go in his community, began eco bricking at his hotel. His community is now one of the cleanest in the country, with dozens of local schools building with eco-bricks and a micro-economy formed around eco-brick buying and selling.
- In Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, Jo Stodgel is encouraging his community to stuff eco-bricks with creative workshops for youth, river cleanup projects, and design / build projects. He is also innovating solutions to make the practice much more accessible and easy, such as using milk cartons instead of bottles.
- In Serbia a math professor Tomislav Radovanovic spent five years turning 13,500 plastic bottles into his dream home. The teacher's former students helped him.
- The Alfredo Santa Cruz family of Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, crafted their home almost entirely from thousands of plastic bottles. Walls, coffee tables, bed platforms and even the steps to get to the front door are made of plastic bottles.
- Rob, Hopkins. "EcoBricks and education: how plastic bottle rubbish is helping build schools". www.theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
- "This Is Not A Leaf: The Story Of Plastic Bottle Schools". April 21, 2016.
- Shruti Verma (June 5, 2014). "World Environment Day Special: Ecobricks". Nestopia. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
- Dison, Gina (July 11, 2014). "Dep Ed USec graces eco-brick launching in Apayao". Northern Philippine Times.
- Stodgel, Jo (2014-09-09). "ECOBRICK.IT". www.ecobrick.it. Upcycle Santa Fe. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Jonathan Taaffe a, Seán O’Sullivan a, Muhammad Ekhlasur Rahman b, Vikram Pakrashi. “Experimental characterization of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottle Eco-bricks.” Elsevier, April 2, 2014. edge.rit.edu/edge/R16401/public/Part1/Benchmarking%20References/Reuse-Recycling/Experimental%20characterization%20of%20Polyethylene%20Terephthalate%20%28PET%29%20bottle%20Eco-bricks.pdf
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- UN Environment Programme (2014-06-23). "Plastic waste causes $13 billion in annual damage to marine ecosystems, says UN agency". un.org. United Nations News Service. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- Neeti, Rustagi; Pradhan, S. K.; Singh, Ritesh (Sep 2011). "Public health impact of plastics: An overview". Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 15 (3): 100–3. doi:10.4103/0019-5278.93198. PMC 3299092. PMID 22412286.
- "Jane's Cob & Ecobrick Home Gets National Attention". Ecobricks.org. 2014-01-03. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
- "Ecobricks Help the Island of Ometepe, Nicaragua to Solve their Plastic Problem". Ecobricks.org. 2017-07-21. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
- "upcycleman". UPCYCLE SANTA FE. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
- Nitin Goyal, Manisha. "Constructing structures using eco-bricks." International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering and research.2016. http://www.ijrter.com/papers/volume-2/issue-4/constructing-structures-using-eco-bricks.pdf
- "Drink it In: 14 Buildings Made from Plastic Bottles." Momtastic Web Ecoist. https://www.momtastic.com/webecoist/2011/05/06/drink-it-in-14-buildings-made-from-plastic-bottles/
- EcoARK ‹See Tfd›(in French)
- The open source Vision Ecobrick Start Guide and Construction Guide are an opensource, translated and free resource available at www.Ecobricks.org. An international team develops and disseminates the Vision Ecobrick Guide globally.
- The Story Of Plastic Bottle Schools, May 9, 2018
- Project Indonesian Ecobrick