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How to make an ecobrick: The novel way of reusing plastics

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RECYCLING and reducing waste are hot topics not just in Jersey but around the world.

And now two friends are taking it to the next level by using an inventive practice which provides a practical solution for plastic that cannot be recycled – ecobricking.

Essentially a way of making building blocks out of plastic bottles solidly packed with bits of non-biodegradable plastic, ecobricks are used around the world to build everything from homes and schools to furniture and decorations.

Here in Jersey, Islander Julie-Anne Simon is currently making and saving ecobricks with the hope of making a stool or donating them to a community garden to use to make raised beds. Friend Josie Marshall has also been inspired to get involved with her family.

And the pair now want to encourage other people to turn their plastic into a family project and potentially encourage community groups to consider ecobricks as a future project.

‘We started in the new year of 2019,’ said Mrs Simon. ‘I had been looking into what could be done with my family’s waste plastic. The amount of plastic we can recycle locally is minimal and after reducing our single-use plastic as far as we could we wanted to do more.

‘It is a way of taking control and responsibility for your own plastic consumption. It makes you so much more aware of how much waste plastic we produce and is a great family recycling project.’

So far the Simon family have completed four ecobricks with a combined weight of over 1.7kg.

‘You basically choose a clean and dry plastic bottle and fill it with clean and dry plastic until you have filled it completely,’ said Mrs Simon, from St Ouen. ‘As it needs to be filled to the point where the brick is solid with no gaps you will need to compact the plastic down. We normally cut some of the plastic into smaller pieces and shove it in with a wooden spoon.’

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She added: ‘If you decide to start ecobricking, start with a smaller bottle like 500ml. It gets easier with practice and a smaller bottle you will fill quicker and keep motivated. As far as I know not many people are ecobricking and there are no community projects but hopefully this article will spur on someone with access to a community project.’

How to make an eco-brick

* Take a used or found plastic drinking bottle, one or two litres is ideal

* Use a stick or the handle of a long wooden spoon to compress the plastic down

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* Any clean, dry, soft plastic that cannot be recycled can go in. Any small bits that cannot be recycled can also go in, such as chewing gum and tin foil. Food, batteries, paper and things that can be recycled should be left out

* It's easier if you fold the plastic first and twist it in

* Squash all soft plastics deep into the bottom of the bottle

* Fold, twist, push, cut, squash, compress, push until it is full and compacted all the way through

* For the final test stand on the bottle - it should be as solid as a brick and not dent. If it does, keep adding more plastics

* Once finished, put the lid back on and it is ready to be used for building

* You should aim for completed bricks to weigh at least 333g for a one litre bottle

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
author

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