Turning toxic waste into wheels

CHILDREN from every corner of Plett have been turning waste into worth, and throw-away plastics into bicycles. “Bicycles?” I hear you say. That’s right… bicycles!
Private and government primary schools from Harkerville to The Crags participated in the Eco Brick Challenge, which united over 6,000 children in pursuit of the same mission: to see how many Eco Bricks they could produce.
Eco Bricks are 2-litre bottles filled with compacted non-recyclable plastics and foils until they are as solid as, well, bricks. They are then used to building chairs, benches, raised flower beds, and even entire buildings.
The challenge was introduced by Rhian Berning of Renew Able Plett in association with Carol Levin of The Blight of Plastic, and all the school children were treated to a visually engaging slideshow and talk on our relationship with the waste we create.
Did you know that a rubbish truck full of plastic enters our oceans every single minute of every single day?
While in nature there is no concept of waste whatsoever (one animal’s waste is another’s treasure), humans are the only species creating waste that is of no value to anyone. In fact, it’s downright toxic and it enters our food chain through the fish we eat.
Inspired with making an impact by reducing their use of single-use plastics and eco-bricking any used plastics - thus preventing it from getting on the streets, in the gutters, in land animals’ tummies and in the oceans - the children took up the challenge.
In total the children of Plett made 2,500 Eco Bricks; when added to the 700 bricks produced by Plett Primary children during last year’s pilot project, it means an equivalent of over 3,000 black bags full of plastic waste were diverted from landfills and the ocean.
Now that needs a round of applause, considering what we spend to send Plett’s waste to a landfill in Mossel Bay!
Eco-bricking stars from each school received a Qhubeka bicycle for their efforts, gaining the mobility that can change lives. Children were also rewarded with caps and t-shirts made of recycled PET bottles from PETCO, proving that if we recycle our used bottles they can be made into items of value.
Finally, they received reusable shopping bag to ensure they could say no to unnecessary plastic shopping bags. The winning schools were rewarded, too, with Plett Christian School coming in first, followed by Raphaeli Waldorf School and Greenwood Bay College.
All Eco-bricking champs will head off on adventures next year with either Ocean Blue Adventures, Africanyon, Nature’s Valley Trust, Wild Waters, or Knysna Cruises. In 2019, the challenge will be open to the Plett public: within a six-month timeframe, anyone making 50 Eco Bricks will receive a Qhubeka bicycle. Follow Renew Able Plett on Facebook for updates.