Building Bridges, One Eco-brick at a Time 

Words: Sarah Hume

Let’s be honest, as humans, we’re waking up pretty late to the fact that we’ve been harming the earth for years. But, better late than never, right? The fact is that there’s been a huge surge in environmental consciousness of late and there are new projects popping up daily, like eco-bricks, that are attempting to right the wrongs.

It’s time to start recycling your waste, with many grocery stores and cafes attempting to make a difference, here is how you can start. Waste-Ed and The Eco-brick Exchange are two organisations that encourage you to contribute to local projects or to start your own – one eco-brick at a time.

Recent Projects

Waste-Ed and The Eco-Brick Exchange are both actively encouraging the use of eco-bricks to uplift communities. From building garden beds to benches, these bricks can be used to build almost anything.

In 2013 the South African government funded a project with the help of eco-bricks. They were able to build a safe and uplifting space for young children in the Delft Township in Cape Town.

Mostly constructed from tyres rammed with earth, eco-bricks were also used in the design to showcase their aesthetic value. The project was used as an opportunity to raise awareness in the area through community outreach programs.

What is an Eco-brick

An eco-brick is a plastic bottle that has been filled (to the brim) with all sorts of non- biodegradable waste, such as plastic, chip packets, wrappers. So the plastic that can’t currently be recycled, can be used in a clever compact way, to ensure that it doesn’t end up in landfills.

This is a compact way of controlling and managing plastic waste and they can then be used in the form of ‘bricks’ to build walls, benches and so on.

How can you make one?

It’s pretty easy, lemon-squeezy, and you can make them from the comfort of your own home. To start, get your hands on a 1,5-2L plastic bottle and collect different types of non-biodegradable waste to fill the bottle. It is a good idea to contact the project you plan on donating to, to ensure the size of the eco-brick needed.

Depending on the size of your project, your plastic bottle size will differ – so perhaps before starting, it would be a good idea to do some research to check if there are any local projects happening that you could get involved in.

A Few Things to Note

Do’s

  • Items need to be tightly packed.
  • Use  from chocolate wrappers to polystyrene containers labels from bottles etc
  • Cut them up if need be, and pack them as tightly as you can into the plastic bottle.
  • Use the back of a wooden spoon or a stick to compact the material inside the bottle.
  • Make sure what you are putting in is clean and dry.

Don’t add any of these items to your eco-brick.

  • Metal
  • Paper
  • Glass
  • Biodegradables

I’ve made my Eco-brick – now what?

If you’ve got your eco-bricks stocked up and they’re looking for a loving home – there are a couple of drop off points between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Here you can hand in your eco-bricks and they will be used for other on-going projects.

A few Drop off points for your eco-bricks:

Eco-brick Exchange:

Port Elizabeth
Grind Café, Stanley Street, Greenacres Office Park, 76 2nd Ave, Newton Park – Port Elizabeth
Re-trade Project, Walmer, 22 Newcombe Ave, Walmer Heights – Port Elizabeth

Western Cape
Hangar 18, Unit 3 Woodbridge Business Park, 452 Koeberg Rd – Milnerton
Faithful-to-Nature, 57 Capricorn Dr – Capricorn
Salt, 136 Main Rd – Fish Hoek
Longbeach Mall, Buller Louw Blvd – Sunnydale
MFM Radio – Stellenbosch University
Health Connections, No.10, Valyland Centre, 27 Upper Kinrae Cres, Fish Hoek

Gauteng
Wecreate, Shop E26, no.10 Van Beek Street, New Maboneng
Mamelodi West Community Hall, 51 Tsweu St, Mamelodi – SA5, Pretoria

Waste-ED

Plettenberg Bay
Marine Way Vet, Corne of Marine Drive and Muller Street, Plettenberg Bay
The Computer Shop, 8 High Street, Plettenberg Bay

Pick’n Pay
Constantia Village
Brackenfell Hypermarket

Oceano Reddentes
Salt, 136 Main Rd, Kalk Bay (Only beach clean up bricks)
Angels Resource centres
E-Zone, 81 Main road, Fish Hoek

Shop Zero, 403 Albert Rd, Woodstock
Nude Foods, 5 Constitution St, Zonnebloem
The Settlers High School, Settlers st, Bellville
Michel’s Bakery, Unit A2, 8 Honeywell Rd, Retreat
Faithful to Nature, 57 Capricorn Dr, Capricorn
Kommetjie Surf Shop, 1 Erica Road, Kommetjie
Wild and Waste-free, 12 Glen Rd, Glencairn

So, as you can see, eco-bricks are helping us build bridges to reinvent the ways we reduce, reuse and recycle our waste.

waste-ed.co.za | ecobrickexchange.org

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