According to the organization Our World in Data, there are 8.3 billion tons of plastic that have accumulated on this planet and more than 5 trillion plastic particles in the ocean. All this plastic waste is not even close to biodegrading yet.
Every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists and will take thousands of years to break down. When it is time for this plastic to go into the biodegrading process, it doesn’t just disappear. Instead, the plastic will break down into forms of micro plastics that are not only harmful to humans but to aquatic life and other animals. Plastic has saturated our environment, invaded animal and aquatic life, and now it is finding its way into our bodies. Since our society relies so heavily on plastic, we need to think of different ways to stop the waste.
In regards to the single-use plastic problem that we are currently facing, President of the Eco Warriors club Samantha Thomas (senior, Political Science) says, “Single-use plastic is the most significant waste problem the world is facing. Our inability to even recycle our own plastic waste is causing social and environmental injustice in developing countries around the world. The fact is that our waste services are dramatically inadequate to handle the amount of plastic being produced.”
We all know about recycling and replacing plastic items such as bags, cutlery, bottles, etc. with their reusable counterparts, but now there’s a unique zero-waste activity that people can take part of called, “bottle bricking.”
According to the organization Earth Bench, “bottle bricks” are “plastic bottles stuffed full of inorganic landfill trash (plastic bags, wrappers, straws, chip bags, single-use plastic packaging, twist-ties, mesh, cigarette buds, dental floss, paper, stickers, receipts, etc) until they become compressed like bricks.” These bricks are also known as “eco bricks” and are durable enough to be used to build various structures such as benches, houses, buildings and garden beds.
The process of bottle bricking is a solution to recycling and is not only a great way to keep trash out of our landfills and waterways, but it also prevents further wildlife death, entrapment, and poisoning. Bottle bricking serves as a great eco-friendly solution, and eco bricks can be a valuable resource for those with no shelter. According to BBC news, the origins of bottle bricking emerged around 2003 in impoverished communities in India, South America, and Central America and were beneficial when creating shelters.
Thomas shares the potential plans for the Eco Warrior club and says, "I would encourage anyone to engage with environmentalism in any way that is enjoyable and beneficial for them. The Eco Warriors may create our own Eco Bricks to border our plot in the Turlock Community Gardens if we can find a way to responsibly source the plastic waste."
In order to stop the waste, Turlock local Kaitlyn Teng shares a sentiment about bottle bricking and how it brings peace to her life. “I think creating eco bricks is not only really good for the environment, but it’s also a fun activity to do especially if you have younger siblings. Once you compile a lot of plastic, it’s almost therapeutic to just sit down, cut up the plastic, and shove it down a bottle. Once you finally make your brick, it’s like a little trophy.”
Modesto local Marisa Blocher also shares that she is aware of the plastic problem and is trying her best to do her part. “Once I put myself in a 'bottle-bricking' mindset, it made me realize just how much plastic is wasted in our day to day lives. As an essential worker, I feel really bad about all the plastic we as a society have to rely on and it immediately gets thrown away after one use. But now that I’ve started bottle-bricking, I feel less guilty with my plastic consumption because I know that these eco bricks will go to a good cause and stay out of our landfills.”
Prior to learning about bottle bricking, Kenny Rours (Stanislaus County Office of Education Custodian) says, “I feel that people rely on plastic so much more now because it is the only sterile and cheap product that can be used during this pandemic. As a custodian, I see so much single-use plastic fill up trash cans and I can’t help but think how wasteful it is. I think bottle bricking is a great idea to combat all this waste and something that I would like to get into.”
So next time you decide to recycle your plastic water bottles and throw away your chip bags, think about this zero-waste life hack and make a difference. Once you've made your bottles send them to the Ecobrick Drop and Exchange Hubs.