Eco-Bricks: What they are, why they’re useful and how you can get involved

Calling all Exeter students who care about the current single-use plastic epidemic! ‘BE THE CHANGE’ NEEDS YOU!

It is often easy to feel helpless in the face of the environmental crisis facing planet Earth. The challenges at hand seem so enormous and wide in scope that it can appear as though any significant change can only be made on a level higher than that of you and me. Whilst, fundamentally, the sweeping reforms and recognition that are needed to tackle the problem will have to come from our government and large companies themselves, there are things we can be doing as individuals, here on campus, that can help our long-suffering planet. So, if you have been left feeling disillusioned and powerless in front of the news recently, we have a project you can get involved with. We are members of ‘Be the Change’, a society with a focus on sustainability at the University. One of our projects this term is based around building and using Eco-Bricks, and whilst this may sound unfamiliar and complicated, it’s anything but. Very simply, we are hoping for as many of you as possible to make Eco-Bricks for use in a sculpture that will be constructed in the Forum to raise awareness of the plastic crisis.

Five weeks ago, I had no idea what an Eco-Brick was, let alone how to construct one or why they were useful, so don’t panic if you haven’t heard of them. An Eco-Brick is simply an empty plastic bottle of any size (ideally two litre), filled tightly with clean and dry single-use plastic. This plastic could be anything from crisp packets to ASOS parcels; as long as you’ve washed it out and it has dried, it can go into the Eco-Brick. To ensure the Eco-Brick is as solid as it can be, use a wooden spoon to shove the plastic down compactly until the bottle is completely filled, seal the lid and it’s finished. It’s as simple as that! Whilst these bricks are only small in size, they can have a big impact. Not only do Eco-Bricks help us take personal responsibility for the amount of plastic we use in our homes, but they can be used as building materials, removing plastic from the biosphere. Constructing Eco-Bricks has made me so much more aware of the amount of useless plastic there is in the everyday products we use, from vegetables wrapped unnecessarily in film to the plastic new clothes arrive in. It is genuinely surprising how many bricks you can make over the course of only a few weeks. So, whilst these little bricks are useful for removing plastic from the eco-system and giving unrecyclable plastic a use, more personally they help to create a consciousness around the amount of plastic you use on a day-to-day basis.

The sculpture we are intending to build in the Forum is of a wave. We hope people on the way to the library or lectures will see it and be reminded of the challenges facing our oceans and biosphere because of plastic pollution. In terms of how to donate your Eco-Bricks to us for use in the sculpture, in the coming weeks we will have stalls in the Forum we’ll use as a drop-off point for any Eco-Bricks you’ve made, or you can message the ‘Be the Change’ page on Facebook and we can arrange for your Eco-Bricks to be collected from you wherever you’ve made them. Updates will come soon on our Facebook (Be The Change Exeter) and Instagram (@exeterecobricks) pages about when specifically in the Autumn term these stalls will be, and if you have any questions until then do not hesitate to message ‘Be the Change’, or drop us an email. Everyone is also welcome at our weekly Wednesday meetings, details of which are posted regularly on our Facebook page. We really would appreciate your help with this project, the more of you the better! Get making your Eco-Bricks, follow our pages and get involved with a project that will help to tackle and raise awareness of plastic pollution right here in Exeter. Get Eco-Bricking everyone!

Emma Vernon

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