MILAN – Take a two litre bottle of water, fill it with other non-biodegradable waste, secure it firmly to another similar bottle and you have an EcoBrick. Such EcoBricks have been conceived as building blocks for constructing something extraordinary: schools for children in the neediest countries. As the Telegraph explains, the venture launched in Guatemala – where there are now 38 schools – leads us across the Philippines to South Africa. The inventor is Susanna Heisse who, with her organisation, Hug It Forward, launched this charitable project on the Web. In fact, her site displays the countdown: 69 months, 60 schools built, at a cost of 6,500 dollars per class.
The benefits of the project
In northern Philippines, an open source handbook has also been produced and distributed in local schools, where the advantages of recycling and this innovative approach are explained. Moreover, as part of the study programme the students are asked to carry around one EcoBrick for a week, describing the work carried out to make it. These sustainable bricks represent an alternative solution to waste management: what, in fact, can plastic recovery do at local level? The EcoBricks transform waste into a highly insulating material at an affordable cost and also help address the problems of unemployment and housing shortage.
Development in South Africa
In the city of Greyton, the initiative is seeking to impact a country which is badly affected by social problems, such as the need for adequate housing in proportion to an ever-increasing population. Nicola Vernon, one of the founders of the initiative, defines this project as a transition model which has been adapted to the challenges of Greyton: “As an example of social integration, EcoBricks is the best I have ever encountered in 30 years of working in social services”. In fact, using this approach, other work is also in progress, such as community gardens, in collaboration with local schools and an eco-village, which has provided work for 18 people.