New Ecobricks.org Launched!

This folks is the rolling culmination of a massive collaboration of artists, designers, engineers, teachers, programmers– all ecobrickers– around the world. This week our team launched the new version of the Ecobricks.org site! Built from the ground up on a fresh server, the site is the new home of the Global Ecobrick Alliance. The site is super simple at the moment– but don’t be deceived! It is built on a rock solid foundation of cutting edge software.

learning to logThe programmers at OnTheGoSystems, have endorsed us with their full pro package of WPML software— the leading WordPress multilingual site software.  We’ve rebuilt our site from scratch using this core, meaning that our site can now be smoothly  deployed in new languages.  Currently, we’re up and running in English and Indonesian. At this very moment we have Clara and Alix working on our German and French translations. Let us know if you’d like to help us with your language!

Meanwhile, the programmers at WP Google maps also donated a pro license for their awesome software.   Nick and Dylan have been hard at work helping us optimize our interactive map of ecobrickers around the world.

We’ve built our site from the ground up to run on mobile devices. Both WPML and WPGoogleMaps are fully mobile-friendly.  In fact, this is the top priority for our site as ecobrickers are often rural mothers, farmers or urban folks who only have a basic smartphone to work with.  Our site is first and foremost for them.

A big thanks to our Bali team of helpers who helped pull together all the pages and translation in time for our August Ecobrick dissemination in Jakarta.

Here are just some of the credits for our site development, and all the content that you will find on it.  Credits:  Russell Maier, lead developer.  Clara, German translation.  Riri and Carly, site development and deployment.  Illustrations by Jo, El Tiburon Grande and Anastatia.  Animations by Elena.  OntheGoSystems– multilingual WMPL site software.  WP Google Maps for interactive google map.  Photography Josephine Chan, Alexander Sutter.

Ecobricking in Ciliwung Merdeka, Urban Jakarta

GEA Ecobrick trainers Russell and Ani lead an ecobrick workshop in the humble yet vibrant urban community of Ciliwung Merdeka, Jakarta this week.  The community is located in the land gap between the Ciliwung River and a Jakarta commuter line train station and train tracks.  The dense community has thrived in this informal pocket of land for decades.

With a thriving community, however, come consumption.  And with consumption, plastic.  What to do with plastic waste in Ciliwung?

“We have no choice but to use plastic!” exclaimed one of the workshops participants.  Virtually every piece of food and drop of drink that enters the community is wrapped in plastic.  Each drink involves a plastic bag and a straw.  Consequently, there is plastic everywhere.

Although there is a healthy system of recyclers picking up plastic bottles and plastic containers in the community, the less valuable plastics (like straws and clear plastic bags) are usually not picked up.  They find there way to the ditch where they are either swept into a pile and burned, or swept into the Ciliwung river.

Although the river still flows, its water is a murky brown.  Strange spiny fish, feeding off sewage, jump to catch gulps of oxygen, as there are no plants in the river to provide it.  Despite the humble circumstances of the community, no one fishes these creatures.  This is where all the waste of the community (and indeed the city) flows into.

Russell and Ani were keen to observe how ecobricks were taken to by the participants.  They were keen to observe what kind of relevance ecobricks have to the Jakarta urban context, and what kind of ecobrick constructions are applicable in dense living situations like this.  According to Pak Sandyawan, a long term community member and urban activist “At the very least, ecobricking is going to be a great therapy for our neighborhood!”

In the Ciliwung Merdeka’s Sanggar, the room was packed full of interested people for the workshop.  A giant pile of plastic disapeared into plastic bottles.  We’ll watch with interest how ecobricking now unfolds in Ciliwung…

–Photos by Irfan Kortschak


“We Burn Plastic!”


When Ani and Carly asked the room of folks from the village of  Bangli, Bali, Indonesia what they normally do with their plastic wase, the room answered in a loud chorus.

There’s a reason we love doing Ecobrick trainings.  In villages like Bangli there simply wasn’t any other course of action to keeping the streets and community clean before our ecobrick presentation.  In addition, the folks gathered in the room, we’re  unaware of just how toxic the fumes and the fallout from burnt plastic can be.

Our Ecobrick training presentation focuses first and foremost on Why its so important to Ecobrick:  the lack of any deep solutions for plastic and how plastic is toxic when put in the wrong place.  Carly and Ani did an amazing job of engaging the crowd and inspiring them with the simple logic of ecobricks:  if you consume plastic eventually your plastic will contaminate the biosphere.

From there, making an Ecobrick with one’s plastic  is just the logical thing to do.carly in action

Grand Ecobrick Unveiling Jogja

_MG_3219BOOM!  Great news for the planet folks!  Twas an epic day in Jogja for Ecobricking that will now reverberate throughout Indonesia. Several hundred people, a dozen media, and various cities dignitaries joined us for the unveiling of 2500 ecobricks.  Our team of ecobrickers were on hand for a live demonstration of ecobrick modules.  In under 2 minutes the team manifested a stage for us.  Then another minute for a couch.  Then a table.  Then a 3M tall Jogjakarta “Tugu” tower landmark!

The live demo caught the audience by surprise.  They were perhaps expecting a lecture or powerpoint from Ani and I. Instead, they were wowed with a a coordinated 3D demo of our module tech in live-action.  Our 20 trainers swirled around the stage showing how our ecobrick modules fit together to make super cool things in minutes.  It was almost easy to forget that our stage, tables, chairs were being made from plastic “trash”.

These were the same trainers who had visited every neighbourhood unit in the city.  The event not only showcased a half ton of transformed plastic, it showed the power of a small group of people to profoundly impact their community.

_MG_2772It was a powerful, poignant and passionate demo.  It helped reinforce my main message– the key to solving plastic is not to judge it as “Trash” in the first place. Ecobricking isn’t a  “Waste Management strategy”.  We’re transcending waste all together.

The skeptical politician who had cut the ribbon and introduced the event was blown away.  He literally grabbed the mic from my hand mid-way through our presentation to announce that he was going to personally launch a city wide initiative support ecobricking in every neighbourhood.  He then happily posed for lots of pics afterwards.

_MG_3102Jogja is the first city in the world that I know of, to officially launch ecobricking as a coordinated municipal strategy to curb consumption.  What we unveiled today is now a model that can be replicated by other cities.  But most of all, its 547.2kg of plastic that has kept out of the biosphere.