image from DENR Agos‘ Facebook Page

Our restaurant produces a lot of waste from our everyday operations, especially when we have catering services that require packed lunches, snacks, and drinks that often include plastic straws, utensils, even the food comes packed in a styrofoam box. Plastic from iced tea sachets, Z-ice, seasonings, milk, sugar, salt, straws, and the like fill our trash bins throughout the day.

My husband and I had an epiphany when weeks ago the city garbage collection crew forgot to collect our trash for almost two weeks due to a shift change. The uncollected trash piled higher and higher as the days went by.  You can call that our “Earth Day” moment. While perusing over the huge pile of trash, I thought, “This is the amount of trash we were producing in a week? How bad! There has to be a way for us to reduce plastic waste.”

Do you know you can repurpose plastic bottles and other loose plastic/single use plastic? Rather than throw them in the trash bin and add it to heaps of garbage at your local landfill, why not repurpose them into something useful? I discovered two Facebook pages with content dedicated to upcycling plastic: Green Antz Builders and The Plastic Solution.   Both have ingenious ways on how to reuse plastic but The Plastic Solution’s method of making ecobricks is cheaper, easier, and can be done by people of all ages. Green Antz Builder’s need special machinery – a plastic shredder bike and various molders, so it requires a lot of capital.

We applied The Plastic Solution’s ecobricking practices here in Bukidnon Breeze to lessen the plastic waste we contribute to our local landfill and repurpose it for landscaping, making poultry and livestock pens, as well as build perimeter walls for our farm.

We made a contest out of making ecobricks for our staff to make it fun. They were divided into two groups and whoever makes the most correctly stuffed ecobricks will win prizes every quarter.

stuffed ecobricks
One of our service crew, Ann, stuffing plastic inside an empty mineral water bottle using a discarded fly swat handle
Our service crew, Shiela, Renejoy, Joy, Junrey, and Ann with their ecobricks 

So how do you make an ecobrick? Here’s how:

To make profit without producing non-biodegradable waste is an unachievable goal at the moment as most restaurant supplies come in plastic containers and bags. All we can do is think of methods on how to upcycle and recycle our non-biodegradable waste. In the near future we will be banning the use of plastic straws in our restaurant.

Thankfully there is a growing community of people in social media who are promoting zero-waste methods to make our everyday lives more and more sustainable and to veer us bit by bit from patronizing products with plastic. Online tips about how to deal with the problem are accessible at the touch of your fingertips so there’s really no excuse not to reduce plastic waste. All we need is DISCIPLINE and sheer WILL to adjust and change for our environment’s sake.

There is no such thing as “away”. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere. – Annie Leonard