Eco-conscious people are familiar with the “three R’s” – reduce, reuse, recycle. But after you have reduced, reused & recycled all you can – you will still have waste left over that often will be sent to landfill.
This is usually either compostable (food waste, biodegradable packaging) or non-recyclable plastics.
Every home with garden space should have a compost bin or heap for disposing of compostable materials. A properly built and managed hot-compost heap or bokashi composter can be used to dispose of cooked foods or table scraps. If you have food waste collection in your area, you should ensure that none gets put in the trash destined for landfill.
For everything else there is the eco-brick. In our experience a simple eco-brick system can reduce household landfill waste by up to 90% by volume.
So what is an eco-brick?
Quite simply it’s a plastic drinks or water bottle stuffed tightly with all the non-recyclable waste generated by a household. Think crisp packets, cellophane wrapping, candy-wrappers & other non-biodegradable waste materials.
This eco-brick is then used in building & insulation applications, as tightly packed eco-bricks encased between boards create a highly insulated wall or ceiling filler. There are now many organizations around the world that have setup eco-brick collection points and use them in low cost housing and other applications.
How do I get started with eco-bricking?
Get yourself a plastic drinks or water bottle – larger sizes like 2L or 5L soda & water bottles work best. Don’t have a drinks bottle lying around? take a quick stroll around your neighborhood on recycling collection day & you will be sure to find a few.
Next start stuffing all your bits of trash that can’t be recycled or composted into the bottle. You will need to use a wooden spoon handle or other long device for larger items and for making sure the bottle is tightly packed. Place the eco-brick near to your trashcan as a reminder to use it instead.
Everyone who eco-bricks is astounded by how much trash can be packed into a single bottle. Our family of 3 typically uses one 5L waterbottle per month, reducing our landfill waste to less than half a standard refuse bag a month (down from 4 full bags every month!)
Once you can’t stuff anything more into the bottle, then just dropoff the eco-brick at a local collection centre. Or if you are are feeling ambitious then save up your eco-bricks for using in a building or insulation project.
See here or here for some ideas for projects that you can implement in your local community for using eco-bricks