The Global Ecobrick Alliance has been focused on plastic transition for the last decade. We do so through the mandalic dissemination of principled and practical ecobricking to raise ecological consciousness. Learn about our background and story here.
The GEA was started in the green valley of the Chico River in the land of Igorot people– the indigenous people of the Filipino Cordilleras. We are guided by their Ayyew vision and regenerative principles. After seeing the failure of capital and profit guided plastic initiatives, we are convinced that truly solving plastic requires a new and careful relationship with petro-capital. As such we established the GEA as a not-for-profit Earth Enterprise. In this way we can maintain global standards for ecobricking and the criteria of plastic sequestration, without profit motif, and instead with a full focus on Earth service.
The Global Ecobrick Alliance (GEA) represents the coming together of plastic transition leaders around the world. We’re made of 300+ trainers from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds from around the world. We share a deep concern for the biosphere and its harm by plastic pollution. We are united by our passion for transitioning from plastic to ever greener modes of living. To do so, we beleive that raising our personal and collective ecological consciousness is crucial.
Living in the community, he began to wonder what was happening to the plastic bottles, packaging and other items that he was consuming and throwing away. Following his neighbours as they picked up and brought away the neighbourhood waste, he discovered that his plastic was being dumped into the local Chico River near where the children would swim and the men would fish. Greatly disturbed by this realization he began to experiment with all manner of upcycling projects. He refurbished his home with them and began to sell them abroad. However, Russell was haunted by the question– what happens when these plastic creations come to their end? The upcycled plastic goods may no longer end up in the Chico river but they still come to an end– was the plastic problem really being solved?
Around this time, Russell was introduced to the work of Andreas Froese, who had been filling bottles with sand in Central America to make ‘bottle bricks’. Russell and his friends decided to experiment with this technique and headed down to the Chico River to pack sand into the bottles. The spot where they were gathering sand happened to be near where the local plastic was being dumped and burned. They decided to improvise and put a mix of sand and plastic into the bottle. The bottle brick seemed just as usable– so they added more and more plastic. Finally, with a mix of bottles packed with sand, and some solely packed with plastic, they built a small garden wall. Not only were the plastic filled bottles just as effective, they had the amazing added benefit of securing the plastic that would otherwise have contaminated the river!
Russell continued the experiment at home, building his garden with them. His neighbours wanted to know more so he worked with the town school to clean up an old pile of plastic. Word began to spread, and the concept was met with overwhelming enthusiasm in their town and soon neighbouring towns! The lack of plastic waste management had reached a crisis in Bontoc, the capital of the province, and everyone was clamouring for an accessible solution for managing their plastic. As demand for what were now being called ‘eco bricks’ increased, Russell and Irene Bakisan came up with the first version Vision Ecobrick Guidebook which could be easily photocopied and distributed. With the help of Irene Bakisan the guide book was distributed to hundreds of schools. By 2014, almost three thousand schools had implemented the ecobricks program in the Northern Philippines Department of Education.
The work of Russell and Irene developing ecobrick concepts was deeply influenced by Igorot concepts and principles. Inspired by a stone rice terrace wall that had collapsed in a storm and was being rebuilt using the same stones– they were determined to ensure that ecobrick constructions would ensure that ecobricks could also be used over and over again. Inspired by the concept of Ayyew, the team prioritized using ecobricks for building green spaces that would enrich neighbourhoods and schools.
With the establishment of the Ecobricks.org website in 2013, the Filipino ecobrick movement discovered that other folks around the world, desperate for a simple solution to plastic, had begun ecobricking independently. Making contact with the leaders of ecobricks movements in South Africa, North and Central America it was decided to form an ‘alliance’ to establish consistency and accord in the global movement. Spearheaded by Russell Maier, Jo Stodgel (Upcycle Santa Fe), Candice Mostert, Patricia Acuna and Irene Bakisan the Global Ecobrick Alliance (GEA) and the creation of the Vision Ecobrick Guidebook v2.0. Jo contributed art work and Patricia assisted the translation to Spanish. In 2014, with the support of Ian Domisse, founder of the Ecobrick Exchange in South Africa, the alliance expanded, agreeing to use the non-hyphenated, non-capitalize term ‘ecobrick’ as the consistent, standardized term of reference in the guidebook and their materials. In this way, ecobrickers around the world would be able to refer with one word to same concept and web searches and hashtags would accelerate global dissemination.
Russell and the growing team continued the development of the GEA and the Ecobricks.org website as a means to keep ecobricking best practices readily accessible to new ecobrickers as the movement spread. In the early 2015 the Vision Ecobrick Guide was translated by Nurkinanti Laraskusuma into Indonesian. In the end of 2015, Russell Maier and Ani Himawati officially founded the GEA as a not-for profit Earth Enterprise with the mission of supporting the technological and philosophical infrastructure of the global ecobrick movement. In 2016 the ecobrick movement ignited in Yogyakarta Indonesia. Ani Himawati was instrumental in the development of the GEA training methodoly, applying the principles of mandalic community manifestation as developed by Russell Maier. Using this methodology, the Indonesian movement has continued to spread exponentially throughout the country through starter workshops, training of trainers, online trainer of trainers, and ecobrick convergences,
The ecobrick movement in the UK was ignited shortly after the airing of Blue Planet II in December 2017. In January 2018 Mary Bacoo and Lucie Mann from the UK joined the GEA as trainers. Lucie started the Ecobricks UK Facebook page which took off in October 2018 as concurrent scandals around the UK recycling industry broke on the news and sent ecobricks viral. There are now 30+ GEA Trainers in the UK, and hundreds of thousands of ecobrickers. The first local GEA Trainer of Trainers was organized by Lucie in July 2019.
“We don’t understand how it happens but with Blue Planet II, suddenly the world was electrified about the crime of chucking plastic into the ocean that can throttle creatures, that can poison creatures, including ourselves,” — David Attenborough
Over 2017-18 hundreds of trainers have joined the GEA Trainer network in Philippines, Indonesia, and South Africa through our live and online trainer of trainer program. In 2018 our first three USA trainers, Sabrina Auclair, Luke Henkel and Jess Beck, joined the team.
An Earth Enterprise is focused on serving the Earth through the harnessing of collaboration, not for profit operation, principled revenue generation and investment.
In 2016, GEA principals Russell Maier and Ani Himawati discussed what path to follow for the GEA. Should they move forward as a company or register as an NGO, or a foundation? They consulted with friends and colleagues, however, neither course resonated with the mission and vision that was becoming clear for the GEA. They decided to move forward and define the GEA in terms that ensured the a principled buffer from the pull of capital-economy and full autonomy. They wanted to be sure that the GEA could serve as a non-biased third-party, maintaining the standards of plastic sequestration and promoting deep plastic transition– in much in the same way that the Wikipedia foundation maintains Wikipedia and promotes free and open knowledge, or that the Mozilla Foundation develops and maintains non-biased platforms to promote a healthy and open internet.
Consulting some of the leading authorities on alternative business structures, alternative currencies and open source intellectual property, we’ve crafted the Earth Enterprise concept for the GEA. The concept builds upon the idea of a ‘social enterprise’ and the concept of an Earth Corporation as developed by Marc Donovan. Our GEA formulation integrates the work of the Post Growth Insititute in defining a not-for-profit (NFP) enterprise. Where a social enterprise serves communities and people, our service is to the Earth– meaning its ecological health and that of the people and species on it. Just as individual ecobrickers can focus on their embodiment of ‘being the change we want to see in the world‘, the Earth Enterprise enables us to do the same as an organization. In so doing, we take the best aspects of company and NGO structures while avoiding aspects that do not apply to our vision and mission.
Unlike a Company…
Unlike most companies, we do not distribute distribute profits to individuals (such as owners, shareholders, investors, partners, workers, managers and board directors– nor our trainers, members or core team). In fact, we do not have owners, shareholders or investors who expect to make money from the business.
Unlike some companies were not out to maximize capital gains for individuals or for-profit companies. Nor will any of our assets be distributed to individuals when the enterprise comes to its end.
However, just because we’re not for-profit or pro-capital, doesn’t mean we’re for loss either! We still earn revenues from our services and products and raise funds for our bold projects. However, unlike many companies, we fully disclose where our revenue comes from and where our expense payments go (see our Open Books) and we strive to make our content open source and public and freely available. Any surplus we do make are cycled back into the GEA to better meet our mission and deliver our earth service.
Consequently, our focus is not on profit but on our mission, vision and principles. This is the essence of our Not for Profit status as developed by the Post Growth Institute. In fact, following the ecobrick non-capital principle, we’re always striving on how to reduce our dependency on capital, petroleum and industry in our endeavours and designs.
Unlike a Charity…
Unlike a charity, we do not take donations, CSR funds, or sponsorships from companies or governments. In this way we ensure that we are not beholden to any particular course of action or another’s agenda. Instead we seek to be financially independent and generate all of our revenue from the sale of our own goods and services (trainings, catalyst programs, EarthWands, open space presentations, etc.). In this way, we can proudly offer goods and services that are 100% in resonance with our principles and thus fund our endeavours and pay our bills with full authenticity.
Unlike many companies we have no staff, employees or paid positions. We have no offices, furniture or physical assets.
Unlike many companies and organizations, our trainers, members and core team are not remunerated for their work generating profit, but for the value they bring fulfilling our mission and vision. We hold the space and set the parameters to ensure that our trainers and our principles can receive a fair and abundant remuneration for their valuable service to the earth. Our trainers, members and core team are fully autonomous and instead receive renumeration for the GEA trainings, workshops, consultations, services and products that they provide indepently. Many of them work hard and contribute greatly of their own time and energy to build the infrastructure to enable this.
Unlike a Foundation…
Unlike many foundations and companies we spend no money on advertising or marketing– instead relying on our authenticity and the principles of collaborative mandalic manifestation.
Although we don’t receive donations from companies, we do receive encouragements from individuals who resonate with our mission and vision. In 2020 we will move away from encouragements to offer services, products and AES plastic offsets to ensure balanced energy exchanges with our supporters.
Unlike an NGO we do not rely on volunteers to make things happen– all of our operations are manifested through our GEA Trainer and Core Team– folks who have been through one of our advanced trainings and are perpetually committed and resonant with our mission, vision and principles. Our trainer team is constantly running GEA Trainings around the world, and are remunerated professionally for these services by the community groups, companies, governments, NGOs or organizations that hire them. In 2020 our Trainers will also have access to revenue generation through the sale of EarthWands.
“In a world with NFP business at its heart, profit is a means by which social and environmental well-being is achieved; it is not a goal in itself.”
Being the Change...
We observe that the consumption and production of plastic is rooted in our cultures and the way the global economy works. Plastic is inextricably bound to the petroleum and capital that makes the global economy spin. However, rather than stress about these big system issues, we’ve chosen to focus on our own personal plastic consumption. This is something we can be sure to do something about! Although seemingly small, we feel that our own plastic is so important that ‘leading by personal example’ is one of our core principles. As we have come together as the Global Ecobrick Alliance, we’ve realized that to deeply solve plastic, we also have to lead by our allied action, enterprise structure and principles…
1. Regenerative Earth Service
The methods, techniques, process and principles of our work are focused on serving the ecological health of the planet by enriching the cycles of interdependence between us and our fellow species. We ensure that our enterprise is regenerative by accounting for our ecological impacts– both greening and greying– and ensuring that our net impact is green.
2. Leading by Example
We ensure that the processes, methods, products and services of our enterprise are fully in line with the principles of the ecobrick movement and the other Earth Enterprise principles below. We are careful to ensure, through our trainings and organizational parameters, that every member of our team instantiates and embodies these principles in their life and work. The operation of our enterprise, of our core team embodies the principles of collaborative mandalic manifestation. The GEA does this by holding the space (the core intentions and principles) of the mandalically unfolding global ecobrick movement.
3. Open Source
We strive to make all our content accessible and free to the world. This involves curating and sharing a selection of our core content (our guide books, non-personal Gobrik data, illustrations, etc.) and where appropriate, the source files under the Creative Commons License: Attribution (to Ecobricks.org), No Commission, Share-Alike. Likewise we strive to use only open source software, platforms and content in our enterprise and to work as much as possible work with organizations that resonate with our principles.
4. Gender, Age & Status Transcendent
We strive to craft methods and processes that do not restrict the involvement and participation from men and women, young and old, rich and poor and everyone in between. Furthermore we recognize and actively encourage co-creative partnerships between folks on the extremes of age, gender, and status.
5. Fair & Abundant Remuneration for Earth Service
We actively cultivate the space and parameters so that our trainers, staff and principles receive fair and abundant remuneration for their service to the earth. As our enterprise expands we will ensure a wage bracket to maintain a defined ratio from the highest to the lowest paid person in the organization.
6. Financial and Impact Transparency
7. Not for Profit
No individuals or shareholders will profit from the operation of the enterprise. At the end of the year, any unspent funds will be reinvested back into the fulfillment of our mission and vision.
We maintain Ecobricks.org (this site) as the go-to source for up-to-date ecobrick information, methods, data and best-practices. The site is run our own Ubuntu server using WordPress software.
Brikcoin Manual Blockchain
The GEA has developed and now maintains the Brikcoin manual blockchain as a means to value the plastic sequestration service of ecobrickers and to develop a medium of exchange based on the value of secured plastic. Brikcoins are generated and exchanged on our GoBrik webapp platform with free account signup.
Ecobrick Best Practices
We maintain and develop ecobrick best practices for the making and application of ecobricks. We strive to develop, make available, and disseminate guides and resources to facilitate and encourage the adoption of best practice methods.
GEA Team Platforms
We maintain a team communication platform and file server to serve the work of the core GEA Team and Trainer network. We use Mattermost for our communicatioons and NextCloud for our file server. Both are run on our own Ubuntu servers.
GEA Reports & Whitepapers
We actively are developing and releasing reports, research and white papers on ecobrick and plastic transition topics.
The GEA is fulfilling its mission and vision of plastic transition by first and foremost cultivating a global network of certified ecobrick trainers and the development of our training programs. We believe that there is nothing more impactful than empowering everyday folks to lead by example and “be the change we want to see in the world“. Our trainers are versed in the essential science and philosophy behind the plastic transition movement and although fully independent and autonomous from the GEA, are supported by their national team community and the GEA. Most of our trainers are active supporting their local and national ecobrick movements on social media.
Ecobrick Starter Workshops
Our global network of GEA Trainers lead basic Ecobrick Starter Workshops in their communities local to them. These trainings introduce the fundamental ecobrick techniques and principles and unite groups into transformative community projects. As the project and community ecobricking unfolds, ecobrickers who are especially keen are encouraged to join our Trainer of Trainer program. Often city government or companies will commission a live training program for many local community leaders. Alternatively, community leaders can join our monthly online training programs.
Training of Trainers
In our ToT programs, ecobrickers gain in-depth knowledge of the science and techniques behind ecobricking with a special emphasis on the principles of the movement— in particular leading by example. In this way, our new trainers can move forward and run their own starter workshops for their communities. Our new trainers then emulate their own trainers– developing community projects, establishing their own ecobrick community hub and cultivating their own network of ecobrickers. A thriving ecobrick community is essential as ecobrick hubs move towards large ecobrick open space projects or structural earth and ecobrick builds.
GEA Country Teams
As ecobricks spread, we set up teams of GEA Trainers to preside over the often viral interest and adoption of ecobricks. This teams help manifest the needed workshops, coordinate with the local media, and field the interest of business keen to transition.
Country Social Media Pages
Our GEA Country teams set up Facebook and social media pages for assisting and energizing the spread of ecobricks in their countries, cities and localities. These pages (we encouraged closed community groups) often grow to thousands of members and are ideal for fielding the questions of beginners and correcting misconceptions. See an informal list of country social media pages.
The GEA methodology and the core of our trainer programs embody the principles of Collaborative Mandalic Manifestation developed by GEA founder Russell Maier.
Any experience ecobricker is welcome to join our online Trainer Training Program— either a live a ToT or one of our monthly online trainer courses. Our online trainer course is designed for maximum accessibility with both a 175 USD and a 175 Brikcoin registration fee. Our Brikcoin fee enables committed ecobrickers without access to traditional capital to earn their fee through service to community validating ecobricks (it is hard work!).
GEA Certified Trainers are invited to join our trainer teams and national trainer team groups. Trainers who are keen, may also join our GEA national and global teams’ coordination committees. Trainers who complete our Earth & Ecobrick Building course are eligible to preside over GEA Earth Building Workshops. Trainers who complete our mentored Master Trainer program can to run live and online ToTs in their country.
In 2020, GEA Certified Trainers who maintain a PTR above 1.0, complete the GEA Mandalic Collaboration Training, and pay their monthly membership fee are eligible for GEA membership and voting status. GEA Members can choose to operate and lead our Circular Committees and join our core team.
The GEA Intention Map
GEA Earth Enterprise Intention Map v2.2
PDF (900 Kb)
We are actively developing and posting our fiat financials to our Open Books accounting system. Meanwhile, all Brikcoin transactions can be searched and viewed on our Brikchain Explorer. In 2020 we aim to deploy these databases in replicable server torrents.
About the GEA
We're not a company, nor an NGO. The Global Ecobrick Alliance is a principled, not for profit, Earth Enterprise focused on deep plastic transition.