Eco bricks: Saving the planet one bottle at a time

Thursday, March 09, 2017

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Philippines is the THIRD biggest producer of plastic pollution in the ocean. That is a horrifying statistic. We have to change that.

Say hello to my latest obsession. Eco bricks are plastic bottles filled with non-biodegradable material. This is a way for normal people to recycle plastic in their own homes easily.

Sometimes being in between is challenging. I care about the environment but I'm not the model eco warrior. I don’t liter, I reuse and recycle but I don’t have a zero waste (or near zero waste) lifestyle. So I felt, am I being hypocritical taking on this project when I consume so much plastic? It bothered me for awhile but I decided to screw it. Doing something is better than doing nothing. I may not have a zero waste lifestyle but at least I’m doing my small part. It's okay to be in between because it’s a start. I’ve made the switch to refuse plastic straws and making eco bricks is my next step.

I was introduced to this concept through The Plastic Solution (TPS) movement on Facebook. The page provides a wealth of information and how you can help here in the Philippines.

What is an eco brick and how does it help the environment?
As mentioned above, eco bricks are plastic bottles packed with non-biodegradable material. I’ll discuss the items that you can pack in an eco brick in length below. These bottles are used as an alternative for constructing fences, walls and so much more. Some plastics take hundreds of years to decompose. Instead of adding to our already polluted Earth, these bricks lessen pollution.

How do you make one? (Plus a lot of tips!)
1. Collect
- Gather plastic bottles. In order for eco bricks to be utilized, just like actual bricks, sizing needs to be standard. TPS accepts 500 ML – 2 L bottles only. If it’s too small, large or irregularly shaped you may give it to recycling center or junk shops instead.
- Here are items that you can stuff in an eco brick:
A. Plastic
Stuff all types of plastic here. That bottle label, packaging, bags, straws, utensils, containers, old pens, old lip glosses, everything. For bigger items like glasses, saucers, PVC cards, egg containers – make sure to cut them into smaller pieces.
B. Foil
The sachet culture is killing our oceans. Make better use of those sachets by putting them in an eco brick instead. 
C. Cloth
If you have clothes that are too tattered to be sold, donated or used as a rag, you can cut them into small pieces and stuff in a bottle instead. Ribbons from gifts can also be added.
D. Cigarette Butts
E. Styrofoam
F. Rubber

2. Clean and dry
All bottles and items that you stuff need to be CLEAN and DRY. Food residue and other contaminants will affect the bottle contents in the future. It requires more effort but it is a necessary step. Have a ziplock bag handy to put your dirty plastics or foil then clean when you get home.

3. Stuff it
Make sure each bottle is packed TIGHT. It’s a matter of adding items, pressing then adding another layer. Best to have cloth or soft plastic in the bottle first. Alternate soft plastic with hard plastic (PVC cards, containers, etc). We’ve gone through a bunch of tools to help us pack our bottles. Chopsticks and drumsticks work the best for me.

Where can I drop it off?
Do visit THIS LINK for TPS’ updated drop-off points. As of writing, you may drop off your eco bricks here:
Makati: Lokal Hostel
5023 P. Burgos Street, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati

Makati: Z Hostel
5660 Don Pedro Street, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City

Makati: MNL Hostel
B. Valdez Street, Makati

Quezon City: ADMU
MVP 307 AESS Org Room, Ateneo de Manila University
Point Person: Camille Rodriquez

Quezon City: Beatnik Inc
Room 208 Llanar Building, 77 Xavierville Quezon City

Quezon City: Mad Kahuna
51 Cubao Expo, General Romulo Ave. Araneta Center Cubao, Quezon City
Mondays to Saturdays: 1 PM-9 PM
Sundays: 12 NN – 8 PM

Quezon City: PETA Theater
5 Sunnyside Dr, New Manila, Quezon City
Point Person: Anj

Quezon City: UP Diliman
Haring Ibon Tambayan, AS Basement
Point Person: Jim Bagano
4th Flr West Wing of Melchor Hall
Point Person: Klarysse Domingo

Quezon City: Tees and Prints
Units 8 - 10 Quedsa Plaza Bldg. Quezon Ave Corner EDSA, Quezon City
02-4123714; 0917-5048337
Monday – Sunday:  9 AM - 7 PM

Luzon: All Circle Hostel Locations (Baler, La Union, Zambales)

How else can I help?
1. Spread the word.
- Talk to family, friends, officemates about it.
- Share this article!
- Visit TPS’ Facebook page and share any content there.
- Make your own content. Post a photo of your eco brick on social media and add the hashtags: #theplasticsolution #packyouplastic #pledgefortheplanet #stuffitchallenge
2. Be a volunteer.
TPS need more help. They need more volunteers to pick up eco bricks and bring them to the designated drop off points.
3. Be a drop-off point.
The movement needs to spread. Having more drop-off points all over Metro Manila will help.
4. Get your school, org or company involved.
Get more people involved! TPS can visit your school, org or office to talk about eco bricks.

This concept enables you to directly help and reduce your own carbon foot print. You do not need a special machine to recycle – you can do it at home with ordinary items. It is simple that even kids can do it (a pre-school donated 173 bottles!). This is a good way to teach kids about responsibility and caring for the environment. I introduced this to our family and my sister is more obsessed with this project than I am. My friends and relatives will attest to how I can’t shut up about it. I’m glad to share that some have started making eco bricks as well.

I urge you to join the movement. Don’t be part of plastic pollution, be part of the solution.

Let's connect! The blog finally has it's own Facebook Page and you can also find me on Instagram.

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