How to Make an Ecobrick
Ecobrick making is simple, but there are important guidelines. Start right— this is a long-term lifestyle habit that you, your household and community are staring. If you’re working at a school, it is important that your ecobricking sets the example for your students. Make sure that students are guided and graded strictly for their first Ecobricks. Soon your first ecobrick will lead to many many more.
1. Get your plastic ready
Save and segregate your non-biodegradeable waste. Ecobricks are best made with clean and dry plastic. Afterall, you may be using the ecobricks to build furniture for your home and we want it to look good. Also, dirty plastic will lead to microbiological growth and the formation of methane inside the bottle (for a solution for dirty plastic see the Ocean Ecobrick). This can lead to bloated ecobricks and in rare cases, caps popping off.
2. Choose your bottles
When choosing the bottle for your Ecobrick it is important to consider the volume, the brand and the project you will use the ecobrick for.
- Volume: Large 1.5L bottles will take alot of plastic…. but also take a long time to make! For workshops, small 600ml bottles are best– new ecobrickers can finish one ecobrick easily. Large bottles are best for advanced ecobrickers.
- Brand: Its ideal to make all your ecobricks with the same brand of bottles. Observe what brand of drink is most consumed in your community.
- Project: For building modules with Ecobricks, you need bottles that are exactly the same size and shape. For outdoor building projects, the exact same size is not so important, so long as the volume is consistent (i.e. all 600ml bottles). Depending on the size of construction, you will need different size bottles. Fr example, small bottles make good walls, and large bottles make good benches.See our Construction Guide for more the different ways Ecobricks are applied.
3. Get your stick ready
All you need to Ecobrick is a stick! But, having the right kind of stick with help a lot! Bamboo and wood make the best sticks. The size of the stick depends on the type of bottle you go with. You want a stick as thick as roughly one third the width of a bottle opening. You want your stick to be about twice the height of your bottle.
4. Be sure not to pack glass, metal, or biodegradeables
Metal, paper, cardboard, glass and biodegradables will not poison the biosphere– so there is no need to put them in a bottle. Use the space of your ecobrick to pack away the otherwise dangerous plastics. Be especially careful not to pack sharp metal or glass into an ecobrick– as you pack it down it will rupture the sides and pose a danger for handling.
- Paper and cardboard can be safely burnt.
- Biodegradeables can be composted.
- Metal and glass can be recycled.
5. Pack the bottle tight
Now its time to pack away! Use your stick to push down the plastic around the inside of the bottle– move in a circle pushing down along the sides. To maximize the density, its good to mix soft, then hard plastic. Cut up big plastics into smaller pieces. The smaller the pieces, the denser you’ll get!
6. Create a white center ring for your label
NEW: Once you get to the middle of your ecobrick, pack 2-3cms of lighter colored plastic. By forming a center white ring of plastic you will later have a clear location to label your Ecobrick with a permanent black marker.
7. Weigh your Ecobrick to ensure quality
Keep packing your ecobrick until it is all the way full. Around the world, we’ve discovered that a good minimum density is 3g/ml. This means that a 600ml bottle will have a minimum weight of 200 grams and a 1500ml bottle will have a minimum weight of 500 grams.
Minimum density goals are a good way to motivate Ecobrickers and ensure quality ecobricks. Ecobricks that are too soft cannot be used for modules. Ecobricks that are too soft are also not ideal for horizontal cob construction. By densely packing of the bottle, we maximize the volume of the bottle for trapping and keeping plastic out of the biosphere.
8. Seal and label your Ecobrick
Make sure your ecobrick is not packed to overflowing. Plastic should not be pushing up against the lid, otherwise the lid may be damaged over time. Once sealed, label your Ecobrick with a black permanent marker. Ideally write on the white ring you have created by packing the center with white plastic. Depending on your community project, it is good to record the following:
- Your name
- Date and year
- The intended Community Project
- ID number (generated by the Ecobrick App)
- Logged (a mark or check to indicate the ecobrick once the ecobrick is recorded)
Many people also use the Ecobrick as a way to record their vision/prayer. Your ecobrick will last a long time. Why not write you vision for the world you would like to see?
9. Record your ecobrick
Recording your ecobricks, either personally or communally is a great way to ensure the quality of your ecobricks and to get excited about the impact we are having on plastic pollution. We’ve developed resources to help you record your Ecobrick. We’ve made a point chart in our Vision Ecobrick Guide to help teachers motivate students. There you can also find a log sheet that can be photocopied.
In the Northern Philippines school system, teachers submit their logs to the principal to calculate school stats. Principals then submit school stats to the school board for district goal tracking.
Stay posted. The Ecobricks team is hard at work on an App that will let you log and track your ecobricks personally.
10. Store your Ecobrick
Store ecobricks indoors, out of the sun. Stack horizontally, with the ends pointed outward (this way you can see the colors you have to work with). Its good to have the ecobricks raised slightly above the floor– rats have been known to chew away at bottles!
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Ecobricks keep plastic and C02 out of the biosphere. Ecobricks raise plastic and ecological consciousness. And more! You'll be amazed at the power of this low-technology. See the full list.
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