The Ocean Ecobrick is for plastics collected from beaches, rivers and the ocean. These plastics tend to be large, chunky, dirty, and wet and are not suitable for normal ecobricking. The Ocean Ecobrick enables them be secured into a practical, useful, and reusable building block.
An ocean ecobrick is made with two cut PET bottles packed with solid with plastic gathered out of the environment to create a reusable building block. Ocean ecobricks, unlike normal ecobricks, allow the packing of dirty and wet plastics in order to secure them from degrading into toxins and microplastics. Ocean ecobricks were developed as a local solution for community beach and river clean ups around the world seeking a regenerative alternative to industrial dumping, recycling and incineration.
Ocean ecobricks (OEBs) can make modular units, furniture, and earthen gardens and structures. The Global Ecobrick Alliance promotes ocean ecobricking as a last resort for plastic that has nowhere else to go. Like normal ecobricks, OEBs are a collaboration powered technology, grounded in regenerative principles that use the terminal reduction of plastic’s net surface area to effectively sequester plastic locally and long term.
Making an Ocean Ecobrick
Making an Ocean Ecobrick (OEB) is straightforward-- no special tools, machines or skills are required. An OEB is essentially two PET bottles, cut, packed with plastic, then sealed bottom to bottom. By cutting a bottle’s top off, one creates a wide opening for packing the chunky, large and solid plastics found on the beach.
For the lining of the bottom and the top of the OEB a soft plastic is used to give the bottom a color. Ideally both the top and bottom of the OEB are given the same color. This adds the ability to create designs and patterns in OEB building applications.
A simple bamboo stick is then used to pack the bottle as full and as solid as possible of ocean plastic. Once the bottom is 80% complete, the top is silvered, then packed 30% full. Packing anymore than this will make it difficult to join the top and bottom together later.
The techniques of making a good normal ecobrick apply to ocean ecobrick making. See our 10 Step Guide to Ecobrick Making to learn mow to make an awesome OEB.
Sealing an Ocean Ecobrick
An Ocean Ecobrick is sealed shut by pressing together and twisting tight the top and bottom. An Ocean Ecobrick is unlike a regular ecobrick as it is not sealed air-tight.
This is important as OEBs are made from wet and soiled plastic that will eventually generate methane. The lack of a seal between the two cut bottles, allows gas to escape, avoiding the dangers of gas accumulation (this is why normal ecobricks are made with clean and dry plastic).
Some ecobricks still choose to use silicone to secure the top to the bottom. If you choose to do this, be sure that your seal is not perfect and that air can still escape.
The Global Ecobrick Alliance promotes ocean ecobricks only as a last resort for plastic. Normal ecobricks, using our own plastic, that is clean and dry, inside an uncut, 100% sealed bottle remain ideal. OEB’s miss out on the most value aspect of ecobricking: that of taking personal responsibility for our plastic. Also unlike normal ecobricks, OEBs still operate in the paradigm of seeing plastic as waste-- ie. “dirty beach plastic waste”. Consequently, OEBs are more of a functional output and to not inspire the same level ecological consciousness and plastic transition that the personal ecobricking process inspires.
Also, unlike normal ecobricks, OEB’s generate waste in their making. Bottles must be cut, and the bottle tops and caps are left over. Note that even though cut, the tops and caps can still be recycled. PET and HDPE are the most sought after plastics. In most South East Asian countries these will be collected by recyclers.
Compared to regular ecobricks, Ocean Ecobricks are more wasteful, fragile, and much less elegant than regular Ecobricks. Most likely, the plastics inside will be dirty and messy. They are not suited for making modules or lego-- only for earth and ecobrick constructions. Nonetheless, Ocean Ecobricks remain cradle to cradle.
Ocean Ecobricks are therefore ideal only in the circumstances of shore line communities that are overloaded with plastic.
Cleaning up beaches, rivers and our neighbourhoods is a both an individual and collaborative endeavour. It unites people across class, age, economy and continents around the shared intention of caring for the local and global biosphere. The personal clean up and ocean ecobricking process raises awareness of the consequences of consumption and the dangers of plastic. The collaborative process gives communities a hands on experience of regenerative principles and points in the direction of even deeper regenerative technologies, such as normal ecobricking, earth building and permaculture.
Ecobricks keep plastic & C02 out of the biosphere. Ecobricks raise ecological consciousness. And more!
Ecobricking is a what we call a regenerative technology. Rather than "sustaining" the status quo, we're careful that everything we do re-greens rather than greys.
Jo Stodgel | Santa Fe, USA
“In America, we might have lots of recycling, but that doesn’t mean the plastic goes away.” Jo ecobricks all his plastic to keep it out of the industrial recycling system. Read Jo’s full story…