Making a Difference – Building blocks from old plastic

Plastic is a really useful material and it’s hard to imagine how we could ever survive without it.  But it has a bad reputation because so much of it has found its way into our oceans or is sent to landfill, where it stays for up to 1,000 years.

Of course, we all recycle as much as we can, depending on what items our local council will take.  But what do we do with the mountains of single-use plastic that cannot be recycled?  Avoid buying it in the first place, yes, but even that has its limitations as it is so all-pervasive in our daily lives.

One fun and green activity is to turn single-use plastic into ecobricks. 

Photo courtesy of ecobricks.org

Global Brick Alliance

For this you need any clean and dry PET plastic bottle that you already have at home, plus as much clean, dry single-use plastic as you can collect.  You’ll also need a wooden stick (if you have a half-litre bottle the handle of a wooden spoon is ideal).

Start by cutting up the plastic into small pieces – the smaller the better as you will be ramming as much of it as you possibly can into the bottle.  Once you’ve got a bowlful or more, push the small pieces of plastic in to the top of the bottle.  Then, with your stick, ram the plastic down as hard as you can into the bottom of the bottle, being sure to fill any little crevices at the bottom.  Keep rotating the bottle so that it is filled evenly.  Then cut up some more plastic and repeat the process until you reach the top.  Children will need a bit of adult help with ramming the plastic down as the bottle really does need to be filed as full as possible so that it ends up solid and non-squidgy.  The finished product should weigh 0.33kg per litre capacity – so a 2 litre bottle should weigh at least 600g and 500ml bottle at least 150g.

Leave a 1-2 cm of space at the top before screwing on the cap (It is made of a different sort of plastic and might eventually react with the plastic in the bottle if this is too full).

You can see some ideas of how to use the bricks on www.ecobricks.org.  Have fun helping the environment!