A local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), along with community members in Johannesburg, are taking the climate crisis and the service delivery crisis into their own hands. From recycled materials, those involved are creating a brighter future for schools and for the planet through the creation of what they are calling “Eco Bricks”.
Khensani’s Collection, an education-focused NGO based in Diepsloot, Gauteng is responsible for building a classroom made from recycled plastic. The organization is taking noticeable steps to help alleviate the climate crisis, as well as provide a solution to the overcrowded school problem the community is currently facing.
The building blocks of this operation, known as Eco Bricks, are made from plastic waste; specifically, a plastic two-liter bottle filled with any other plastic that can’t be recycled.
The idea of the Eco Brick stemmed from the fact that a school the NGO works with was overcrowded and running out of space due to a classroom filled by 40 learners, having all their lessons in the same room. The numbers were only increasing, so after researching about the Eco Brick, a decision to build a second classroom from the growing piles of litter outside the school was born.
The first Eco Brick classroom was built in 2020. A 42 square meter classroom, able to seat about 20 children, was created using recyclable materials from the environment.
“It took us about three months to build. We repurposed about forty tons of our plastic that we made into Eco Bricks, so that on its own, [is] 8.3 tons of carbon emissions that [were] avoided,” says Diana Musara from Khensani’s Collection.
Musara added that the creation of the Eco Brick has a double benefit, as it combats the issue of climate change while also being used in ways that support the community of Diepsloot and its children.
“We all know that plastic is a big contributor to global warming so every time that we do repurpose plastic, we are avoiding carbon in our environment.”
Pollution in South Africa, such as littering, contributes greatly to the climate crisis the entire world is dealing with at the moment. Littering affects climate change because most materials like plastic will not break down over time or will take hundreds of years to break down, causing greenhouse gases to leak into our atmosphere and as a result, our planet becomes hotter.
Khensani Collection is in the process of constructing another building with its Eco Bricks, which will consist of three additional classrooms, a library and a soup kitchen.
The NGO is calling on other communities to make use of this environmentally-friendly way to better the planet and their immediate environments.
“What we are planning on (or now doing) is [going] to places like Soweto where we can identify and train the community, first of all, in terms of how we can get rid of the litter which is in our environment; and train them [to see] that this litter is actually a shelter, a school, a clinic for our community.”
Musara says communities and organizations should take matters into their own hands, instead of waiting on service delivery, and creating and using Eco Bricks is the way to do that.