Why Make Ecobricks?

So, why Ecobrick?  First and foremost, plastic pollution poses one of the greatest threats to the planet’s healthy ecology.  When plastic enters then biosphere it is an ecological poison that disrupts the cycles of life.  Ecobricks allow you to take personally responsibility for your plastic.  Of course, there are many “solutions” for plastic “waste”.  Some go deeper than others at returning our living to a harmony with the cycles of life.  This website is here because, after much trial and tribulation, we have found it to be the deepest solution for our own plastic.  Not only does it solve our current plastic, but it puts us on a road towards to using it wisely.

There are many good reasons to Ecobrick.  Here is a list.  Click to expand.

Ecobricks trap and keep poisonous plastics out of the bioshere.

 

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“The problem is always the solution” – Bill Molison

Plastics in the biosphere disrupt the cycles of life.  Ecobricking allows the long term retention of control of materials that in all other eventualities would become toxic.  Ecobricks make use of the very problem (the longevity of the plastic) to seal the potential toxics away.  By Ecobricking plastic into a bottle, the net surface area of the plastic is reduced a factor of several thousands. By Ecobricking only clean plastic, the build up of methane gas is prevented.  By sealing the bottle, the degradation of plastic becomes all but impossible.

Because of the incredible longevity of PET that is protected from UV rays, Ecobricking effectively trap plastic indefinitely within a bottle.  Of course, it is important to build properly with ecobricks to prevent degradation. Download and follow our building principles and techniques when using Ecobricks:  The Vision Ecobrick Construction Guide.

 

The process of Ecobricking raises ecological consciousnes.

 

Mr EcoBrick visioning-01

Ecological consciousness is the awareness of one’s connection to the cycles of life that we are part of.

Plastic pollution is fundamentally caused by short sighted, linear thinking and ignorance of plastic’s properties.  Many people don’t realize just how dangerous and toxic plastic can be– they thus go continue consuming, tossing, burning or recycling their plastic.   Ecobricking addresses this directly.  All of our training materials begin by introducing the potential dangers of plastic.

Perhaps most significantly, the hands on process of making an ecobrick raises the maker’s ecological consciousness.  For those who make Ecobricks, they know it is a laborious task–  it can take hours of dedicated work and a large sack of plastic to make a single 1.5L Ecobrick.  The process is inherently meditative.  It lends itself towards existential reflection on each piece of “trash” being stashed.  It gets Ecobrickers reflecting:  Where did this plastic come from?  Where is it going? Why is it here?  Where will it be in 100 years?  Would it be better to just grow my own coffee?

To honor future generations and other species, we must begin by thinking of them.  Ecobricks provide an invaluable spark to such reflection (this very article and your reading of it is an example of this).   Ecobricks become a catalyst to envisioning one’s lifestyle in deeper harmony with the circles of life.

See Ecobrick Visioning

Ecobricks keep plastic out of the Industrial Recycling system.

Photos by Alexander Sattler during our visit to Suwung Dumpsite, Bali Indonesia, 2016 Ecobricks enable citizens to take plastic out of the industrial recycling system. When plastic is “Recycled”, it re-enters a high energy, globally diversified industrial system.  This system is known for creating vast disparities of wealth, some of the most toxic working conditions, consuming exorbitant amounts of energy, and the down-cycling of all plastic into unrecycleable materials that must be dumped into the environment.

Contrary to common belief, recycled plastic does not get recycled into the same kind of plastic.  When used plastic is melted down into a base pellet for reuse, its rarely into the same category of plastic it was first. For example, a plastic PET bottle isn’t recycled into another PET bottle, but into a lower form of plastic, with less value. Worn, dirty, broken the plastic can only be down-cycled into a form of plastic with less value. Because of the lower value, the likelihood of this being recycled is reduced with each cycle of the “Recycling”.  With each “cycle” the chances of the plastic being dumped or leaked into the biosphere increases.  Inevitably, all plastic in the Industrial recycling system will end up in the biosphere.

Ecobricks help put a stop to the down-spiral by simply removing it from this system.  Whereas the utility of plastic has been traditionally used by large corporations to ship cheap, long-lasting products around the world and further their empires, the appropriation of plastic from the global system, let ‘s it be put to use for local benefit.

Read more:  Recycling: The Evil Illusion

Ecobricks are fundamentally Cradle-to-Cradle: they are a transition to cyclical systems and thinking.

Ecobricks, and all the applications on our site, are fundamentally Cradle-to-Cradle.  This means, that the next life of the Ecobrick is planned into the creation that we make out of them.

Everything comes to its end.  Alas, pollution is is caused by short sighted thinking: not planning the end into a product design. The vast majority of the products we use today go from their birth in a factory, into our hands, into their grave– which is always someplace within the Earth’s biosphere. This is a particular problem with plastic, as it long outlives the product’s usage.  Pollution is the result.

With Ecobricks, we do things differently.  Learning from the endless cycles of life, we use Ecobricks in a way that anticipates their next cycle.   Instead of a straight line of cradle to grave, we can draw a circle. We can make sure our Ecobricks go from one cradle to the next, to the next.  This is the spirit behind Ecobrick Modules and LEGO.  This is the concept behind the minimal use of cob in Ecobrick construction.

Read more on Ecobricks: Cradle to Cradle

 

Ecobricks empower citizens and communties to go zero-waste.

Many people, communities and companies feel they need to rely on an outside facility to deal responsibly with their plastic.  Most traditional recycling systems cost millions of dollars.  With ecobricks there is no need for a big recycling plant or a giant Incinerator.  Ecobricks allow individual and community action without the need of special skills, equipment, facilities, finances or political permission, to transform flows of  wastes into into useful, zero-cost and indefinitely reusable building blocks.  Individuals can start right this moment to take charge of their waste:  all that is needed is a plastic bottle and a stick.  Once started, ecobrickers are empowered to go 100% zero waste.

Ecobricks allow the local repurposing of plastic for practical applications.

Whereas the utility of plastic has been traditionally used by large corporations to ship cheap, long-lasting products around the world and further their empires, the appropriation of plastic from the global system, let ‘s it be put to use for local benefit.  No more!  With Ecobricks, you and me, schools and communities ca put their plastic to use locally.  Ecobricks, can be used to build all sorts of great stuff!

  • Indoor furniture
  • LEGO modules
  • Community green spaces
  • Walls and structures
  • More!

See our building page for more details.

Ecobricks are a low energy solution to plastic

To reuse the material of a simple plastic bottle the global industrial recycling system uses a vast amount of energy.  Plastic is first collected by trucks and delivered to a sorting facility involving massive machinery. The plastic is then shipped across the world to a foundry to be turned into raw materials.  These raw materials are then sent to a factory to produce a new product.  This product is then shipped around the world to a store.

In contrast, Ecobricking and the application of an ecobrick takes place within a the circle of one’s community.  The consumed plastic is put to use locally– no machines, transportation or high energy systems required.

 

Traditional waste management systems require giant budgets, proprietary technology and vast amounts of energy to run.  The recycling of plastic bottle can result in plastic bouncing around the planet from a store in Canada, to a foundry in China, to a factory in the Philippines, to a river, to the ocean.  Often, as soon as a city builds a recycling plant, there is already more plastic than capacity.

Ecobricking requires no special machines, skills, or finances to implement.  The technology is 100% open source.  Because of its simplicity, Ecobricking can spread and over-reach plastic consumption rates.

Ecobricks sequester C02

Plastic is made from petroleum molecules, which is made from oil.  The burning of plastic (globally one of the most common forms of plastic disposal) generates 3.1Kg of C02 per 1Kg of plastic.  When plastic is left in the sun, C02 is also released in the photo-degradation process.  The release of C02 is one of the major causes of global warming.

By packing plastic into a bottle to make an Ecobrick, we keep plastic from being burned or degraded.  When ecobricked, the net surface area of all the plastic packed is reduced by a factor of thousands– propotionately reducing the UV exposure.  The density of a packed ecobrick (typically between 300-400g/ml) also makes it very difficult for an ecobrick to combust.  When used in a cob construction, there is no chance for UV, heat or friction degradation.  The plastic’s C02 is effectively sequestered indefinitely– just as untapped oil beneath the Earth is a natural storage of C02.

On average one 600ml Ecobrick will sequester 0.62kg of CO2 and a 1.5L Ecobricks will sequester 4.6Kg of CO2.

Ecobricks are a low-tech, Open Source solution

Ecobricking technology is designed from the ground up to be accessible, simple, and do-able without expense, machines, or special equipment.  This site as well as others around the net, share methodologies and innovations without charge using the Creative Commons free-to-distribute license.  Consequently, there is no profit or exchange of capital involved in the making of ecobricks or their application.  The motives for ecobricking are thus radically different from the for-profit exigencies of industrial recycling, waste-to-energy, incineration, and other large scale, proprietary technologies.

Ecobricking is a viral solution

The current production of plastic continues to increase at a significant linear rate.  Traditional industrial recycling systems cannot keep up.  Ecobricking, as a low-tech, open-source solution, spread within a social region virally– quickly surpassing the rate of local plastic consumption.  In the city of Jogjakarta, the municipal government saw the spread of ecobricking to each of its 453 neighbourhood units within several months.  In the Northern Philippines, ecobricking spread through the entire school system, involving 250,000 students, within one year.  In the city of Bontoc, ecobricking helped reduce the municipal plastic output so dramatically, that the local dupsite was closed within six months.  In each case, when introduced methodically, Ecobricking results in a dramatic dent in the actual amount of plastic waste produced in a community over the short and long-term.

 




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