GEA Ecobrick Applications

Practical & Principled Ecobrick Building

Ecobrick Milstein Modules

Simple & Practical Furniture

Ecobrick Dieleman Modules

Vertical Life-Size LEGO

Open Spaces

Interactive Sitting, Work and Play Spaces

Earth & Ecobrick Building

Build Green Spaces, Parks & Structures

And more!

Ecobricks can build furniture, gardens, play parks, structures and more.  The only limit is our imaginations and the strength of our communities.

However, it is crucial to build mindfully with ecobricks– plastic let loose in the environment can can be toxic and our building methods must ensure that it is fully secured.  The Global Ecobrick Alliance (GEA) has thus developed applications, methods and best-practices that fully embody regenerative design principles.  Our methods apply cradle-to-cradle techniques of combining ecobricks.  In this way, we leverage plastic’s long lasting properties to make ecobricks indefinitely reusable over the short and long term.  This means, not only can you build cool stuff with ecobricks, but you can do so in a way that ensures that your net impact is positive and greening! 

GEA Approved Applications

Ecobricks can be used for short or long term applications which balance the benefits of utility and the securing of plastic.

Short-term Applications

Silicone or inner-tube-bands can be used as short-term, non-permanent attachment methods to create ecobrick applications that last for months and up to several years. As short-term applications are not usually covered up, they are typically for indoor use, in order to prevent the UV photodegradation of the bottles.  As short term methods have less barriers to replicability, they assist the spread of the ecobrick social movement by empowering the makers.  The benefit of short-term applications are practicality, utility, replicability, social empowerment and the dissemination of ecobricking.

Long-term Applications

Earth and Ecobrick building techniques are used to create structures that can last years or decades (it is not uncommon for traditional constructions to last centuries!).  Earth mixes (i.e Cob (material), Wattle and daub, adobe) are used to lay ecobricks horizontally and completely cover them for full protection against all forms of degradation.  The main benefit of long-term applications is plastic sequestration– fully securing plastic from all forms of degradation for the long-haul.

Ecobrick Storage

A UK Ecobrick Storage depot. Read more about its construction…

Before you build with ecobricks, it is essential to store them properly.  Ideally, ecobricks are stored off of the ground (on a floor or raised on wood) and fully protected from the sun and the elements.  Ecobricks are best stacked horizontally with their bottom pointed outwards.  This enables you to organize your ecobricks by colour and brand– which later facilitates project planning and making.

Ecobricks stacked horizontally, organized by brand and colour. The ecobricks are protected from below by wooden crates and from the sun and dust by a black tarp.

 

1. Milstein Modules (Horizontal Lego)

The easiest, fastest, and perhaps the most fun ecobrick application, are Milstein Modules (MMs). These are hexagon and triangle shaped configurations of ecobricks that are used for sitting, but can be combined together to form one or two level horizontal surfaces. Applications include tables, beds, stages, etc.  All you need is 12 ecobricks to start!  Generic silicone sealant or motorcycle inner tubes can be used to make MMs . Ecobrick Milstein Modules can then slide into deployment for classes, concerts, meetings and more to make horizontal surfaces.  They can be stacked one on top of the other to add one level of vertical height.  They can be stacked and stored vertically to save space.

Usage:  Ecobricks modules can be used in indoors for seating, tables, beds, stages and more.

Maintenance:  Modules should be cleaned once a year.  Broken modules can be repaired with silicone.

Next Life:  Well used ecobrick Milstein Modules wil last 2-3 years.  After this time, the silicone joints began to weaken and to fail.  Ecobricks also begin to loose their lustre as the colors of the contained plastic begin to fade.  This is a good opportunity to transition them to long term building applications where they are fully protected with earth.

Caution:  For indoor use only.   The UV rays in sunlight will degrade and fade your ecobricks and weaken the bottle’s plastic.

 

How to Make Milstein Modules

2. Dieleman Modules (Vertical Lego)

So this is pretty cool– ecobricks can make LEGO-like blocks!  Dieleman Modules, or DMs for short, are a way to turn bottles into modular bricks that can be stacked vertically.  Sixteen ecobricks are siliconed together to make one DM module.  DMs interconnect just like Legos.  They stack one upon the other and enable you to make walls, towers and columns, quickly and easily without any glue or mortar.  The DMs can then be disassembled just as easily.

Senior GEA Trainers, Ani and Russell pose with a set of dieleman ecobrick lego modules at a city event in Cilacap, Central Java Indonesia.

Senior GEA Trainers, Ani and Russell pose with a set of dieleman ecobrick lego modules at a city event in Cilacap, Central Java Indonesia.

Usage:  Awesome for indoor playgrounds and building structures for concerts or fairs in minutes. Can be taken apart and stored just as fast!

Maintenance:  Modules should be cleaned once a year.  Broken modules can be repaired with silicone.

Next Life:  Well used ecobrick Milstein Modules wil last 2-3 years.  After this time, the silicone joints began to weaken and to fail.  Ecobricks also begin to loose their lustre as the colors of the contained plastic begin to fade.  This is a good opportunity to transition them to long term building applications where they are fully protected with earth.

Caution:  For indoor use only.  Ecobricks are exposed and thus the furniture cannot be used outside– UV rays will degrade and fade your ecobricks. Untested for outdoor long-term building projects.

 

Ecobrick Dieleman Modules

3. Ecobrick Open Spaces

Above: A one minute video introduction to Ecobrick Open Spaces

Ecobrick Open Spaces are for community that have completed thousands of high quality ecobricks with consistent bottle sizes and brands.  These ecobricks can then be combined into an assortment of Milstein and Dieleman modules to create a diverse set of several hundred modules.   These modules can then be deployed for confernces, exhibtions, fairs and other special events to create customized interactive spaces.   These spaces can either be setup in advance or invite participants to interact, play and create their own space.  Ecobrick communities that have amassed Open Space sets often rent out to events and venues to show case ecobrick modular technology and regenerative principles.

Ecobrick Open Spaces

4. Earth & Ecobrick Building

 

The most enduring and greenest way to build with ecobricks is using Earth Building techniques.  Earth building was used by our ancestors to build homes and structures that have endured for centuries.  This general method is known by different names in different languages and continents– cob, adobe, wattle-and-daub, etc.  By using local earth, straw and sand to make the mortar for the ecobricks we can build in ways that are resilient, strong, beautiful, and thermal-retentive.
 
Earth building is in full resonance with our principles— it is simple and replicable, non-capital, non-petroleum, collaboration powered, cradle-to-cradle and potently regenerative. Earth building techniques are gender and age transcendent:  involving men and women, young and old, and everyone in between in the building process.
 
Earth and Ecobrick Building is ideal for constructing simple garden spaces – playgrounds and what we call ‘food forest play parks‘.  The Ecobrick and Earth Building techniques can then be extrapolated for wall and structure construction.

The Earth Building technique can completely cover ecobricks, effectively securing them indefinitely in the construction.  This keeps them safe from UV light and other forms of degradation.  After 10, 20 or 100 years, when your structure comes to its end (as everything eventually does) the ecobricks can be extricated undamaged and fully repurposed.

  • Benefits:  Our number one choice for structural building!  This method is strong, earthquake resilient, allows curved walls and designs, allows ecobricks to be recycled at the end of the construction, and relies only on 100% organic, locally-sourced materials that cost next to nothing.
  • Disadvantages:  It’s outside of the corporate construction paradigm: your bank won’t give you a mortgage, insurance companies won’t cover it, and your hands and feet will get dirty.
  • Next Life:  Earth and ecobrick constructions disassemble into crumbled cob mortar which can be returned to the earth without problem (or reused in another earth construction!).  The ecobricks can be removed from the crumbled cob to be reused in any way.

 

More: Earth & Ecobrick Building

And more ideas!

People around the world are building all sorts of great and unique things with their ecobrick!  Did you know that Ecobricks float really well?  We can’t wait to see the first Ecobrick boats and islands. Have you seen or developed useful applications?  Please share with us, or help our team develop this page further.   Share your photos on the web with the hash tag #ecobricks.  Post your ideas and photos in the comments section below. From baseball bats to boats, the sky is the limit on what you can use Ecobricks for!  Ecobricks can be used for getting fit, for games and more.

 

Maintenance

It is important not to forget our responsibility when building with plastic.  Ecobricks represent large amounts of secured plastic, and if our constructions lack planning and maintenance, there is the risk of the plastic escaping loose into the biosphere.  Planning for the maintence and the end of the construction is key.

Short Term Applications

Ecobrick furniture and modules need regular cleaning and repair.  Our GEA Trainer Team who have several hundred ecobrick modules that they regularily rent out to cities and exhibitions, spend one day a year cleaning their modules with a high powered hose and soap.  They also dismantle weak modules and repair them with silicone.

Part of ensuring the longevity of ecobrick modules is to train those who use the modules how to handle them.  Modules should always be moved with two hands.  This is especially important with ecobrick Dieleman lego which new users are often tempted to grab with one hand.

 

 Long Term Applications

 Earth and Ecobrick builds often represent large amounts of secured plastic.  When building on government or community land, it is key to establish a long term maintenance agreement with the custodians of the property.  This agreement must include yearly checkups and repairs and also a plan for the destruction of the construction to ensure the indefinite integrity of the ecobricks. 

View a sample GEA Ecobrick Construction Long term Custodian agreement:

 

An Important Note on Concrete

We advise against using ecobricks with concrete as the connecting mortar.  Cementing ecobricks makes them impossible to extricate when the construction comes to its end.  Be it 10, 20 or a hundred years in the future, the stiff, shard concrete rubble will tear and rupture the ecobricks.  It is important to think of the next life of ecobricks and the end or our structures.  See Cradle to Cradle ecobrick design.

An Introduction to Bottle Building

For a comprehensive introduction to the the theory and techniques of bottle building, download our free, open source construction guide.

Get the Guide

Circular Design

Ecobricks are a deep solution to plastic as they apply regenerative, circular principles.  All GEA ecobrick applications are 100% cradle-to-cradle.

Go Circular

Ecobrick Modules

Ecobrick modules are one of the easiest, fastest and most practical applications of ecobricks

Learn More