In this day and age of globalization with the realization of the interdependence of all of life, it is becoming clearer all the time that there is no ‘away’ to throw things. With dwindling natural resources and our environments becoming more toxic all the time with the application of our ‘waste’ materials, it is of vital importance that we utilize in creative ways what is already available to us – the piles of resources mistaken for ‘trash’ that sit like cancerous tumors on the edges of our towns.

So what can be done with the all the trash? Around the world, people have come up with an amazing variety of colorful and creative ways to appreciate the value held in ‘waste’ materials. Whilst a cola can turned into a windmill, or plastic bags sown or knitted into a dress are great ways of changing perceptions and creating something of value, they do not necessarily provide an outlet for the mountains of trash that we produce every day.

The answer is to be found on a bigger scale – in how we build the structures we inhabit and utilize. Tires, tin cans, styrofoam, bottles plastic and glass are the primary materials in Earthship construction and Honduras based ECO TEC fills PET bottles with sand to build homes and water tanks. Most importantly though is Pura Vida Atitlan of Guatemala, stuffing plastic bottles with all non-recyclable inorganic ‘waste’ materials – plastic bags, films, styrofoam, and nylon – creating plastic bottle bricks to be used in ecological construction projects.

With the composting and recycling of the other parts of our waste streams, this simple practice of stuffing plastic bottles offers us the opportunity to attain zero waste in our homes, schools and businesses – sending no more guilt-infused bags to the hillsides or dumpsites – whilst producing resilient building materials which will last for thousands of years. The challenge is yours – this is an opportunity to give something back to the community that is useful and valuable rather than toxic and polluting.

We will soon be constructing an example of plastic bottle brick building for the upcoming Greyton Festival of Transition. Prizes will be given to the individuals who contribute the most amount of tightly packed-with-a-stick plastic bottle bricks to the project through the 28th of July. Stuffed eco-bricks can be dropped off at the Greyton Library as well as the Transition Town tables on Wednesday from 10 to 12 at Via’s and on Saturday from 10 to 12 at the Conservation Market.

Got trash? Eco-brick it! And may good stuffing be with you!

– Joseph Stodgel 7-12-12