Together We're Transitioning from Plastic
Introducing the Plastic Transition Ratio– a way that individuals and companies can track their regenerative impact.
We live in an age where it’s impossible to avoid plastic and our industrial systems have failed to manage it. Ecobricks provide a way to take care of our own plastic and a gateway to transition. Ecobricking enables us to lead by example, not only to live zero waste — but to go way beyond! Discerning your Personal Plastic Transition Ratio is a way to tell where you are on the scale of grey to green.
Personal Plastic Consumption
As we go about our modern lives we are inevitably consuming plastic — drinking from a straw, using a bag for our groceries, taking a plastic wrapper off a candy. Most people, communities, cities and companies have no idea how much plastic they are actually consuming on a monthly or yearly basis. This unconscious consumption is directly linked to the ever growing dumps, ocean plastic patches, and clogged rivers around the world.
Also part of daily modern life, is the use of plastic outside of our home — wrapping a package in tape, giving a plastic gift, donating toys for charity, recycling bottles in a bin, eating out at a restaurant. In each of these cases, the package sent, the gift, the donations, the recycled plastic, and the general responsibility of what happens to it next is exported to other people and places.
Where will this plastic go eventually? Well… research shows that even in countries with high tech recycling systems, the rates of inustrially recycling are low, and the majority of this plastic is exported to places without recycling systems. All this plastic inevitably leads to plastic being dumped and ending up in the biosphere.
The first and essential step to reduce our impact on the biosphere is measuring it. Afterall, how can we tell if we’re progressing or not unless we know what our impact actually is? Measuring your monthly plastic consumption and production is where we start.
Plastic in itself isn’t the problem; it’s when we are unconscious of its impact on the biosphere. Transitioning from plastic is about being conscious of our relationship with plastic and ensuring we are on our way to consuming less and less… and sequestering more and more.
Businesses and Plastic Producers
Tracking plastic generation is in particular relevant to companies and organizations that use plastic in their business practices– whether that involves office meals and office supplies, the packaging of products, or the products themselves. Tracking plastic transition is an essential key performance indicator for businesses serious about going green and transforming their negative impact on the biosphere to a positive one. The GEA Catalyst program and our GoBrik tracking software is designed to help businesses with exactly this.
Ecobricks are one of the best ways to definitely capture plastic. An ecobrick not only reduces the net surface area of the plastic packed by several thousandfold, it uses the longevity of plastic to trap it indefinitely. Your plastic is kept local where you can be sure of it, and out of industrial recycling and incineration. Ecobricks, unlike many other up-cycling processes, meet the standards of century-endurable, cradle-to-cradle design. Ecobricks are so effective at taking plastic out of the industrial and global systems, that it is effectively ‘sequestered’ (from the Latin ‘sequestrate’: to place in safekeeping). In other words, once captured into a bottle, the plastic isn’t going anywhere! In the same way that trees and forest ‘sequester’ C02 (i.e. store it), we can sequester plastic.
Ecobricks empower us to take care of our own plastic — enabling you to stop exporting your plastic to others and live zero waste! However, it doesn’t stop there. By picking up and packing the plastic of others, you can capture and sequester more plastic than you have consumed yourself.
The Plastic Transition Ratio
The PTR is composed of four components: Your plastic consumption and production and your personal offset and community offset. These are measured overtime, for example monthly or yearly. When it comes to your plastic generation, you need to track this yourself! Many ecobrickers do this with a two basket system. Over the course of the month, the plastic that they consume they clean, dry and put in a Weighing basket. At the end of the month, they weigh this plastic, and move it to their Ecobricking Basket. From this basket they grab the plastic for their ecobricks. Meanwhile, they begin the month anew filling the Weighing Basket with their consumption. As the month goes by, they also pay attention to the plastic they give away to others or use outside their home (produced plastic)
At the end of the month, the weighed consumed plastic + produced plastic is compared to the net weight of their ecobricks made that month. The GEA has developed the GoBrik platform to help you keep track of both your ecobricks and your PTR. Ecobricks that are logged on GoBrik with their weight are tallied up at the end of the month by the system. Using your estimates of household plastic consumption and production your PTR is calculate. A monthly report is sent to you each month showing your PTR. Over time, your monthly PTRs are tracked and averaged to show you your yearly and overall progress in plastic transition. A similar process is used for companies in the GEA Catalyst program.
Your PTR is measured as a percentage of zero waste. In otherwords, if you’re generating and ecobricking exactly the same amounts of plastic, then there you are fully accounting for all your plastic and are zero waste! A PTR below 100% shows you have far you still have to go.
Extra Plastic: Going Regenerative!
Things start to get exciting when you begin to work with your neighbours and community. When you start ecobricking more plastic than you consume yourself your PTR goes above 100% This means that your live is removing more plastic than you’re putting into the world. Imagine if everyone was like this! And companies too! Wow… now, that’s plastic transition.
Regenerative = Re-greening!
Plastic is a symbol of the unconscious industrialization over the last century that has so degraded our planet’s ecosystems. Yet… the problem is always the solution. The very best application for ecobricks is to build gardens! We call them Food Forest Play Parks. Thus, there is a direct connection between making ecobricks and the regeneration of multi-species green spaces in urban areas, and the igniting of permaculture principles in the greyest places on the planet.
Get Started Calculating Your PTR
Sign up to Ecobricks.org to create your free account— we’ll walk you through the process of setting up your PTR. This will involve saving, cleaning, drying, storing then weighing your plastic consumption every month. Don’t worry, our system will remind you and help you discern your numbers. Then, as you make ecobricks and log them on our system, you’ll be able to see your live PTR graph, and track your progress as the year progress.
The Consumption Connection
Is there a connection between the pollution of the planet and of our bodies? We explore this question and more in our VEB resources.
Plastic Can Become Poison
Through sun and water exposure, plastic breaks down into environmental toxins and microplastics. Packing it into an ecobrick secures it from poisoning the biosphere.
“We can do so much better than the old modes of buying, using and throwing away. As the garbage dumps and ocean plastic patches grow bigger and bigger, it is becoming clear that the industrial ideas of ‘recycling’, ‘buying green’ and ‘minimizing our footprint’ are in fact trampling the planet. It’s now time to transition from barren footprints to seeded furrows! From impacting to augmenting, from greying to greening. Its time for regeneration, and plastic is the place to start.”
— Russell Maier GEA Principal