Ecobricks

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Ecobricks are plastic drinking bottles packed with non-biological waste to make a reusable building block

An ecobrick is a plastic bottle stuffed solid with non-biological waste to create a reusable building block. Eco-bricks are used to make modular furniture, garden spaces and full-scale buildings such as schools and houses. Eco-bricks are a collaboration powered technology that provides a zero-cost solid waste solution for individuals, households, schools, and communities. Also known as an Eco-Brick, a bottle brick, and Ecoladrillo, this local waste solution has come to be known as 'eco-bricks' (non-hyphenated, and non-capitalized) by a growing movement of communities around the world.[1]

History[edit]

Ecobricking plastic waste into bottles is a method for dealing with waste that has popped up organically around the world. Various simultaneous pioneers have helped shape the global movement and refine the technology. Susana Heisse an environmental activist around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala in 2004. Susana was inspired by a woman who was building her house with plastic bottles filled with plastic trash; she immediately realized the potential of this building technique for solving a number of challenges faced by the local community.[2] Alvaro Molina began on the island of Ometepe in 2003. The technique builds upon the bottle building techniques developed by German architect Andreas Froese (using sand-filled PET bottles) in South America in 2000. These Eco-Bricks are then used to build schools in South America in order to improve children's lives and give homeless people a permanent place to stay.

In 2010, in the Northern Philippines, Russell Maier and Irene Bakisan[3] developed a curriculum guide of simplified and recommended practices to help local schools integrate eco-bricks into their curriculum. Applying the ancestral ecological principles of the Igorots for building rice terraces, they integrated Cradle-to-cradle principles into Ecobrick methodology: ensuring that Eco-bricks can be reused at the end of the construction they are used in. Through the Department of Education, the guide distributed to 1700 schools in 2014.[4]

The open source development of Ecobrick best practices and innovations that emerged from the Filipino movement, became the genesis for the Global Ecobrick Alliance in South Africa, Zambia, America, and most recently Indonesia. Movements in South Africa began in 2012 when American Joseph Stodgel brought the concept to the small town of Greyton throwing an annual Trash to Treasure festival at the local dumpsite with South African, Candice Mostert who started local school projects under Greyton transition town building with the bricks made by the community. The movement has grown in South Africa since with organizations like Waste-ED founded by Candice Mostert who works both in Zambia and Cape Towns surrounds to educate people about plastic waste and its value and the architect Ian Dommisse as the Ecobrick Exchange.

Construction[edit]

"Take a Plastic Bottle – Stuff it Full of plastic" Ecobrick.it

An Ecobrick is made of a plastic bottle or container of some sort (including paper/laminate milk cartons) which has random plastic waste compressed inside it. Generally, a stick is used to stuff the rinsed and dried bottle densely layer by layer with non-biodegradable waste.[5] Any size of plastic bottle can be used to make an Eco-brick, but the most appropriate bottle to use was found to be of size 500 ml. It's easier to pack and less force is required from the stick to compact the plastic into the bottle. Food packaging needs to be clean and dry to avoid bacterias to form. The best method is to start packing the waste in little by little and alternating between adding the plastic and compacting it with the stick. While compacting with the stick the bottle needs to be rotated while pressing down to ensure that the waste will be evenly compacted throughout the bottle. This helps ensure that the bottle will not have any voids and will have the solid properties similar to a concrete block.[6] Completed Eco-bricks needs to weight 220g and they are stuffed so densely that they can bear the weight of a person without deformation.

Context[edit]

Albatross at Midway Atoll Refuge. Plastics do not fit back into the cycles of life. (8080507529)

Plastics are made from petrochemicals. These chemicals don’t fit back into the ecologies around us. Scientific studies show that these chemicals are toxic to humans— we know this when we smell plastics burning. Eventually, plastics that are littered burned or dumped degrade into these poisonous chemicals. Over time, these chemicals leach into the land, air and water,[7] and are absorbed by plants and animals. Eventually, they reach us, causing congenital disabilities, hormonal imbalances, and cancer. Even engineered dump sites are not a solution. Whether it is ten years, or one hundred, these chemicals will eventually seep into the biosphere, affecting our farms & families.

A tremendous amount of plastic waste litters our planet every year, and its cost is huge. According to the UNEP 2014 Yearbook, plastic contamination threatens marine life, tourism, fisheries and businesses and the overall natural capital cost for plastic waste is $75 billion each year.[8] Since plastics don’t biodegrade but photodegrade, plastics in the fields or water just break down into small pieces. Plants and animals then absorb these toxic pieces and come back to us, which leads to fatal consequences like cancer and birth defects.[9]

Plastics need to be either eliminated or put in a place that won’t affect the environment. PET bottles will last for 300–500 years if they are kept from sunlight. When packed tightly with other non-biodegradables, they make a versatile building block that can be used over and over for building. They also become time capsules— a gift to future generations.

Ecobricks are ideal for building community garden spaces.

Case studies[edit]

  1. In the village of Besao in the Northern Philippines, hospital custodian Jane Liwan set about packing one eco-brick a day to revamp her ailing home that her neighbors had been ridiculing. Two years later her home is a tourist attraction that has been featured in both local and national media. [10]
  2. On the isolated volcano island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, Alvaro Molina, distraught by the plastic waste that had nowhere to go in his community, began eco bricking at his hotel. His community is now one of the cleanest in the country, with dozens of local schools building with eco-bricks and a micro-economy formed around eco-brick buying and selling.[citation needed]
  3. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, Jo Stodgel is encouraging his community to stuff eco-bricks with creative workshops for youth, river cleanup projects, and design / build projects. He is also innovating solutions to make the practice much more accessible and easy, such as using milk cartons instead of bottles.[citation needed]
  4. In Serbia a math professor Tomislav Radovanovic spent five years turning 13,500 plastic bottles into his dream home. The teacher’s former students helped him.[11]
  5. Thelfredo Santa Cruz family of Puerto Iguazu, Argentina crafted their home almost entirely from thousands of plastic bottles walls, coffee tables, bed platforms-even the steps to get to the front door are made up of plastic bottles. [12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rob, Hopkins. "EcoBricks and education: how plastic bottle rubbish is helping build schools". www.theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  2. ^ {{cite web |Website Title=ZL Comms |article title=This Is Not A Leaf: The Story Of Plastic Bottle Schools |Electronically Published= April 21, 2016 |URL=6 https://zlcomms.co.uk/this-is-not-a-leaf-the-story-of-plastic-bottle-schools/
  3. ^ Shruti Verma (June 5, 2014). "World Environment Day Special: Ecobricks". Nestopia. Retrieved February 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ Dison, Gina (July 11, 2014). "Dep Ed USec graces eco-brick launching in Apayao". Northern Philippine Times. 
  5. ^ Stodgel, Jo. "ECOBRICK.IT". www.ecobrick.it. Upcycle Santa Fe. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Jonathan Taaffe a, Seán O’Sullivan a, Muhammad Ekhlasur Rahman b, Vikram Pakrashi. “Experimental characterization of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottle Eco-bricks.” Elsevier, april 2, 2014. edge.rit.edu/edge/R16401/public/Part1/Benchmarking%20References/Reuse-Recycling/Experimental%20characterization%20of%20Polyethylene%20Terephthalate%20%28PET%29%20bottle%20Eco-bricks.pdf
  7. ^ Barnes, David K. A.; Galgani, Francois; Thompson, Richard C.; Barlaz, Morton (July 27, 2009). "Accumulation and fragmentation of plastic debris in global environments". The Royal Society, Biological Sciences. 364: 1985–98. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0205. PMC 2873009Freely accessible. PMID 19528051. 
  8. ^ UN Environment Programme. "Plastic waste causes $13 billion in annual damage to marine ecosystems, says UN agency". un.org. United Nations News Service. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Neeti, Rustagi; Pradhan, S. K.; Singh, Ritesh (Sep 2011). "Public health impact of plastics: An overview". Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 15 (3): 100–3. doi:10.4103/0019-5278.93198. PMC 3299092Freely accessible. PMID 22412286. 
  10. ^ "Jane's Cob & Ecobrick Home Gets National Attention". Ecobricks.org. 2014-01-03. Retrieved 2018-07-07. 
  11. ^ Nitin Goyal, Manisha. "Constructing structures using eco-bricks." International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering and research.2016. http://www.ijrter.com/papers/volume-2/issue-4/constructing-structures-using-eco-bricks.pdf
  12. ^ Nitin Goyal, Manisha. "Constructing structures using eco-bricks." International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering and research.2016. http://www.ijrter.com/papers/volume-2/issue-4/constructing-structures-using-eco-bricks.pdf

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