Make Bottle Bricks
Because I and, to a lesser extent, David Attenborough say so.
Like most of you, when I first saw WALL-E I assumed it was a documentary and was relieved to find we had at last discovered a solution to the madness of short-term landfillery. However, on attempting to contact and marry EVA, Pixar security guards informed me not just that I would be charged with breach of the peace but also that the film was a work of speculative fiction. There remains, therefore, much to be done about our culture of single-use disposability and my love life.
Plastic is a particular scourge, something I’ve been banging on about for 15 years but you only bothered with once David Attenborough made you sad about a dolphin stubbing its toe on a Coke bottle, perhaps because of his greater wisdom, knowledge, experience, qualifications, credibility and global audience. Thanks to me and David people seem to be getting wise to the horrors of single-use plastic, fighting hard against plastic carrier bags and agreeing plastic straws suck. But still we wrap a ton of stuff in non-recyclable plastic to keep it fresh, the kind of shit that takes about 400 years – or two Trump presidencies – to biodegrade. While engineerists, scienticians and supply chainers work on biodegradable alternatives – and they’re doable – we need to do something with the plastic that’s knocking about already and get me back on Tinder.
Bottle bricks, or eco-bricks, are a thing I heard about 40 minutes ago and am now fully obsessed with. It’s possible your best friend David Attenborough’s already told you but the idea is we gather up single-use, non-recyclable plastics – yer crisp packets, yer chocolate wrappers, yer salad bags, yer dental floss – and pack them tightly into plastic bottles. When crammed to the right kind of density they become rock hard and can be used as building material for a whole bunch of stuff: hipster planters, hipster chairs, even whole goddamn buildings.
They’re not perfect, of course. The bottles eventually become a bitch to recycle if they’re covered in concrete as mortar, and they only postpone the problem of how we finally dispose of single-use plastics. But they’re better than chucking it all straight in the bin and can be at least a part of the bigger solution we need. They can turn single-use plastic into double-use plastic while we’re constructing our first garbage robot. Of course, as Zeroes we avoid buying plastic bottles so may encounter a shortage of eco-brick receptacles. Happily, thanks to littering bastards we can look in any park, beach or seal’s oesophagus to find discarded bottles ready for reuse.
Once you’ve stuffed your bottles good and tight you can drop them off at your nearest collection point – ecobricks.org will help you there – and encourage your local school, nursery and community groups to get stuck in and maybe tell their sisters I’m back on the market. We could go the whole rest of our lives never sending any plastic to any landfills anywhere ever again. Get on it!
Make bottle bricks!
We can build stuff
Save the goddamn world
Photo credit: The Zero
Related Blog Posts
Among the million things we need to do to avert climate breakdown, kicking the arse out of plastic is one of the most urgent. Plastic comes from dirty-bad oil, gas and coal, using about 4.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and about 6% of coal-fired electricity in its production. We’re bringing on the sixth mass extinction for the sake of shrink-wrapped broccoli.
In my withered, Covid-infested state I find myself doing less and less for the big battles we need to win: Yer climate breakdown, yer rise of fascism, yer eating the rich. But recently I’ve discovered a critical area of climate activism that requires even less effort than doing very little: Doing nothing at all! By which I mean I’m buying less shit.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the IPCC – issued its latest report this week, pointing out how monumentally fucked we are because we like cars, burgers and mass extinctions. It makes for grim reading – but only if you actually read it. Here are nine ways you can avoid giving it any thought at all!
Desperate to avoid petrol I hired an electric car for the purposes of hard science. I requisitioned a Renault Zoe for a few days, rented a lab coat and three pens for its pocket, bought a clipboard outright and began the grand experiment. The key tests were how well the battery lasted with my commute and the business of social work, how quickly it drained when parked overnight, how big a pain in the arse public charge points are, and how often I’d have to use the buggers.
Back in the arse-end of 2019 I finally ditched my car, having decided humanity was marginally more important than an easy commute. But then Covid hit. And hit me right in the face. Almost two years later I’m still having trouble walking, still working fully from home and only just starting full time hours. I need a car. Which means I need an electric car, which means a lot of expense…
We’ve made it halfway through COP26. It’s been a week of photo ops and erasures, announcements and sucker-punches, protests and Borises being colossal shits. On the surface there have been some decent announcements…
And so we find ourselves on the eve of COP26, where highfalutin delegates from around 200 countries will come together in Glasgow to either unite the world to tackle climate change or to talk shit, greenwash their failures and prove virtue signalling is a real thing after all. In preparation I’ve been hard at work on my soul-crushing climate anxiety. This requires long nights lying awake fretting, long days doomscrolling social media. It requires your heart pounding against your ribs so hard it actually makes a noise.
My grand return to the world of disability hasn’t been great for carbon footprinting. The early, housebound stage was amazing, obviously. The plus side of not leaving my bed for months is that it reduced my emissions – and my activity, social life and hope – to zero. But as I got more with it, public transport was no longer an option…
As the climate crisis escalates and we begin laying track for Fury Roads, most of us are living our lives much as before. It’s a society-wide combover, with all of us pretending not to notice the very clear bald patches poking through. But even with our eyes closed and our fingers in our ears, climate breakdown will keep on trucking. Here’s how, Buzzfeed style: