Little Green Ways

We all have room to green up our lives – let's do this!

So way back in October when I first saw a viral facebook post about ecobricks it was a complete lightbulb moment! I was inspired get out my environmental doldrums, pick myself up by the bootstraps, resurrect this blog (which had been sitting waiting to be used for over year) and get cracking with ecobricks.

As a web developer myself, and with the original viral post on ecobricks sending their website crashing down I quickly offered my services to help the ecobrick website. A few days later I was contacted by Russ Maeir the founder of the ecobricks movement, based in Indonesia. Not only was help required but they were keen to get me on board with completing the official ecobricks training course.

Becoming an ecobrick trainer

Over a series of weekend training sessions on Skype to a group consisting of likeminded souls from Bali, Indonesia, Australia, England and South Africa I completed my Global Earth Alliance – Ecobricks trainers course alongside a local friend. We became the first two Scottish ecobrick trainers – currently still the case!

We ran our first workshop to put our new skills into action. A few local friends were happy to be guinea pigs and many of them have gone on to be active brickers! Our little community has some statistics to be proud of. In the three months since starting our little journey we have sequestered 26.65kg of unrecyclable plastic!

Community Stats Skelmorlie Ecobricks

Our first construction

Despite 4 of us coordinating our efforts to make the same sized bricks it took months to have enough bricks for our first ecobrick construction – a stool! This stool contains a whopping 4.8kg of unrecyclable plastic.

The pay off!

As I transitioned to the way of the ecobrick, I was amazed to see the difference in our black bin collection – so much so that I had to take a photo! So satisfying to be adding so little to landfill and saving all that plastic from the biosphere.

Then we hit the big time!

Even the local rag the Greenock “tele” wanted in on the ecobrick action and published a story featuring little old me!

Greenock Tele - Ecorbrick Article

Onwards and upwards

Requests for ecobrick workshops from all sorts of angles are coming in and some exciting collaborations look to be taking place soon as well as some interesting places looking to collect bricks for their own projects!

We were invited to talk at a Climate Change Event in Glasgow and next are booked into a Yoga festival who have a market with a difference – everything is zero waste!

Bit by bit more people are getting on board and when I see the amount my own bin has changed it feels like every one person does make a difference.

Transitioning to the ecobrick way

All the plastic!

During all of this, I was becoming more and more aware of the plastic coming in and out of our home. It was hard to begin with – collecting piles of stuff I hadn’t worked out what to do with yet, everything seemed to require research! Feeling like I was already quite “green” I was stunned to see just the amount of plastic my wee family was creating… my kitchen seat became a corner of doom!

And me? I became completely obsessed!

I researched our local recycling to the nth degree. I figured out where and how I could recycle everything and just how much could be recycled at the local supermarket.

Once I started taking personal responsibility for my own waste I saw all the problems we have in our current set up. I started feeling really annoyed about how difficult the “right” choice was, and about how often the plastic free choice was penalised! Why should multipacks be in cling wrap and why should we pay more for buying 6 cans individually… these kind of situations are everywhere.

There were some depressing moments of realisation.

Deeply understanding just how insidious plastic is was horrible. It leaches toxins into our environment, last forever and is virtually impossible to avoid!

By now I had learned that recycling is inherently a flawed system for plastics and was horrified my recycling efforts were almost pointless when the vast majority of plastic is either downcycled or landfilled.

But gradually I started swapping out products for kinder alternatives everywhere I could and stopped buying unnecessary stuff. I realised the only solution was to AVOID plastic where ever possible.

I started to feel empowered instead of defeated.

I stuffed my corner of doom into some bricks and reduced the plastic coming into the house. The ecobricking process became manageable and part of my daily routine.

Life has changed

It’s safe to say that incorporating ecobricks into my life has changed my lifestyle fundamentally. Now I understand the volume of waste which is going “somewhere” I know I need to take steps personally to reduce it. I question my purchases and think about what happens at the end of life for each of my bought products. I’m no longer buying things I don’t need and I’m inspired to share what I have learned as I go on this blog too. I’m not living a perfect zero waste lifestyle but it’s my aim to get as close as I can to that!

Life may feel a little more complicated at times (and sometimes less) but our convenient way of living came at a high price which is ultimately not sustainable for our world. It’s up to each of us to do our bit and the time is now! There’s no magic wand to come and fix this, we need to use less “stuff” and buy the stuff we really need more thoughtfully.

Unexpected Bonus

Transitioning your lifestyle is not an immediately easy thing however… there are lots of unexpected benefits!

  • Less “stuff” in our lives is surprisingly relaxing!
  • The green swap which begins with the expectation of compromise often turns out to be way better than the “convenient” option!
  • Eating more whole foods and fresh veg (bought from the right places 😉 ) is healthier and saves on plastic too!
  • The more you do – the more you enable those around you to make positive changes too.
  • FREEDOM! Just saying no to the glossy lifestyle sold to us feels very empowering.
  • Finding the next green fix is always so satisfying!
  • I’ve really connected with lots of like-minded people – and found many people already in my life feel the same way! That community feeling is powerful.

So what do ecobricks mean to me?!

They represent the point in time that I decided to be part of the solution.

Further reading

3 thoughts on “Adventures in ecobricking – the good and the bad!

  1. I just cant get the required weight of plastic into the bottle, even though the plastic is stuffed really tight, am I missing something, or doing something wrong?

    1. Hi Sarah! There is a real technique to proper stuffing! First, you need a good pokey stick which is longer than the bottle. You need to have the plastic cut in small strips and start the stuffing quite early. Weigh early too to make sure you are on track. Once you have enough in that its starting to compact a little in the bottom third, start gathering soft plastic on the end of your stick and squashing it down the sides all the way. The bottle should feel very firm to touch – no squishiness at all! With the right technique getting the bottle to weight is easy!

  2. A friend told me recently that I should start a blog – but ecobricking, making ecobrick furniture, giving workshops, promoting ecobricking and ecobrick furniture and ecobrick workshops etc takes a lot of time – so I’m going to share your blog, especially with that friend, and say, “Here you go – this is what I would have said if I had a blog,” – except that you’ve said it better. Thanks so much! Clare in Bathurst, South Africa.

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