WHATS WITH ALL THE BOTTLES?
As many of you may know I run a social enterprise called @ecobrickexchange.
I haven’t been speaking about it here very much as I thought I should keep this side of my work separate. But seeing as though it’s such a strong passion of mine I’ve decided to start sharing some of the stories which have unfolded over the 5 years since our organization formed.
It’s probably important to explain what an EcoBrick is: a 2L plastic bottle stuffed tightly with non recyclable soft plastics. When I first came across the concept in 2013 I became fascinated_ finally a solution to protect our precious environment from plastic waste. But when I started asking about it within the South African architectural profession I was met with blank faces.
Whether by luck or destiny a previous lecturer of mine ( @bryanwintermeyer) called me into his office to see how he could help. By that stage we had already found a candidate shack school which needed to be replaced. I’ll never forget Bryan’s words to me. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “If you apply to the local municipality to build a school out of bottles…once they stop laughing, they’ll say no.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But with the same breath he offered the support of his and his wife’s firm to guide us through the application.
After 32 months of innovating, multiple rejections, and redesigning the plans were eventually approved. This made Penguins Preschool the first EcoBrick building plan to be approved by a South African municipality and created a precedent for others to follow.
Along the journey I have been blown away by the support we have received and the loyal volunteers who became team members. Kinga Mnich, Sebastian Kuhn, Ilze Stegmann/now Dommisse, Ziyanda Mapela, Anna Bergmann, and Tayla Foong have all dedicated so much for their time and effort towards the organization no matter where they find themselves in the world.
Have you ever made an EcoBrick? Or if not - have you ever started a social enterprise? If yes to either please share what you learnt through the process, I’d really value hearing from you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ 📸by the talented @fimacp ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀