28th November 2019
The average UK adult is said to spend around £330 buying Christmas presents, and the average child receives 16 gifts in total. With Christmas being celebrated in many countries around the world, and the world’s population standing at 7.7 billion people (as of November 2019), that’s a lot of bubble wrap, wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and name tags that need to be disposed of after these gifts have been excitedly ripped open! Add to this the one billion Christmas cards being sold in the UK alone each year, and that’s even more waste that needs to be disposed of correctly, and as environmentally-friendly as possible. As the statistics show, in the UK alone we create 30% more waste than usual during the festive period.
The Geography Department is teaching the pupils about the importance of environmental sustainability. Through our units of work, the girls understand their impact on the world around them. With that in mind then, and considering the statistics above, the Department is launching an Ecobrick initiative. Girls have been shown how to make one in assembly, and hopefully will come home full of enthusiasm. In order to help them, here are a set of instructions on their construction.
- Choose a bottle. This is really important because you need to get the perfect bottle to build the perfect ecobrick. The key thing to think about is size. Any size bottle will work as an ecobrick, but the average size tends to be between 500ml to 1.5l. You should also make sure that you’re using a bottle from a product that you use regularly – you don’t want to end up having to buy a plastic bottle just to make an ecobrick!
- Prepare your plastic. Any plastic that you put in your brick needs to be clean and dry – any dirt can lead to microbiological growth and methane forming inside your brick. If you put dirty plastic inside your ecobrick it can make the bottle bloat and the cap can even pop off – not to mention it won’t look very nice!
- Get a stick. You’ll need a stick to poke the plastic in your bottle down so you can fit as much as possible in! A bamboo or wooden stick will work best, and it should have a rounded tip to make sure it doesn’t pierce the bottle when you are squashing the plastic down.
- What not to put in your ecobrick. Remember – the things you put in your ecobrick can’t be recycled or won’t break down, so be sure not to include metal, paper, card, food waste or glass.
- Weigh your ecobrick. THIS IS IMPORTANT. You need to make sure that your ecobrick is packed as tightly as possible to make it really strong. Bricks that are too soft can’t be used for building because they might not be robust enough. Plus, the more you fit in your bottle, the less plastic will be getting out into the environment! Obviously the weight of your brick depends on the size of your bottle, but as a rough guide a 500ml bottle should weigh around 175g when it’s full, and a 1.5l bottle should weigh around 500g.
- Be careful not to overfill your brick. Although your brick should be packed full of plastic, it shouldn’t be pushing against the lid because it could end up making the lid come off.
Here are some of the items you can put in your brick:
- Plastic bags
- Wrapping paper
- Ribbons and bows
- Photo paper
- Crisp packets
- Food containers
- Plastic cutlery
- Cling film
- Plastic fruit and vegetable packaging
- Polystyrene (or Styrofoam) – this is a petroleum-based product that can’t be recycled. Lots of products are made out of this including food containers and packaging.
Don’t forget that you can always cut up plastic to go in your ecobrick, even if it seems too big.
Once completed, please bring them back to School at the start of next term. We have sourced an environmental charity that will take as many ecobricks as we can make, and will use them for suitable projects. It would be brilliant to have as many as possible!
With kind regards