Faridabad, September 16, 2020: As a city grows, the task of dealing with urban solid waste – especially the non-biodegradable garbage becomes daunting. Worst hit are the urban slums that usually do not have adequate infrastructure to collect and safely dispose of plastic waste.
But the children and the youth of a slum community in the industrialised city of Faridabad in Haryana, demonstrate how a little bit of creativity and collective effort can make a big difference to the local environment. The children are active participants of Bal-Panchayat of SOS Children’s Villages – a platform for the children to debate and find solutions for the problems affecting them and their families.
When the Bal-Panchayat took up the issue of growing plastic waste in their community, they decided to try the concept of upcycling (the process of transforming waste materials into new products of greater value) to make plastic waste into reusable building blocks.
With the support of the caregivers of SOS Children’s Villages and volunteers of a local organisation, the children learned how to stuff plastic waste (use-and-throw /carry bags, wrappers, etc.,) inside plastic water bottles and convert them into bottle bricks. Made to a set density, these bricks are as strong and durable as clay bricks – they can be used to construct mini structures.
On every consecutive Sunday, the Bal-Panchayat children set aside a few hours of their time to collect plastic garbage and water bottles from the community that has more than 4000 households. They gathered at the community workstation and made bottle bricks with the collected plastic waste. Gradually, they created about 300 bottle bricks, each weighing about 200 grams. With the bricks, they constructed benches and installed them in the community – with the support of animators and co-workers of SOS Children’s Villages.
The children of Bal-Panchayat named bottle bricks as eco-bricks – since these bricks represent enormous environmental value. The bricks help reduce the amount of household plastic waste from getting into the waste stream and prevent plastic waste from becoming toxins or microplastic, a major food and water contaminant.
Their future plan is to make more Eco Bricks to build structures such as benches and dustbins that meet the local requirements of the Auto Pin Slum Community.