Ecobricks, Changing Behaviours & Building Schools In South Africa with Ian Dommisse on The Sustainable Jungle Podcast #sustainablejungle

Podcast #28 · Ian Dommisse · Ecobricks, Changing Behaviours & Building Schools In South Africa

“I call it the gateway drug because once you start ecobricking, you see that your waste output suddenly halves and you’re much more likely to then start recycling and composting, so you can throw nothing away.”

Ian Dommisse

Ian Dommisse is an Architect from Cape Town, South Africa. After learning about eco bricks, an innovative “invention” that uses unrecyclable plastic waste to make building materials, he founded the Ecobrick Exchange, “an environment awareness enterprise that facilitates the construction of preschools in underprivileged communities using unrecyclable plastic waste”. Their programmes “empower individuals to address the shortage of quality education facilities, implement sustainable waste management systems and raise environmental awareness.”

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We managed to catch Ian while the Ecobrick Exchange was on their big Winter Tour, a series of educational events held in Winter throughout South Africa. Specifically, we managed to gatecrash an epic Eco Festival called the Festival of Action, run by Greenpop (a tree planting  eco-education organization, popularizing the green movement in South Africa) and boy are we glad we did, it was outrageously inspiring to see the work these folks do in action – Ian and the Ecobrick Exchange team included! We managed to find a semi-quiet spot, nestled on the outskirts of the Knysna Forest to sit down with Ian and chat about the following:

  • Ian’s background and how he first became curious, restless and then passionate about the social divide and community development in South Africa (~01:30)
  • Ian’s career as an architect and how his journey with ecobricks began and developed (~03:30)
  • Penguins Preschool in Port Elizabeth, Ecobrick Exchange flagship project (~04:45)
  • Inspiration from the Habitat for Humanity program in South Africa (~06:30)
  • What is an ecobrick and how to make them? (~07:10)
  • How robust are ecobricks and how are they used in building structures? (~08:40)
  • Why making an ecobrick is a transforming act (~09:40)
  • Why ecobricks make great building materials (~10:10)
  • Driving adoption of ecobrick making and early use of ecobricks in a variety of structures in South Africa (~11:25)
  • Helping to build a school out of reclaimed materials including 4,000 ecobricks crowdsourced from the local community (~14:00)
  • The Ecobrick Exchange’s role in community projects, their training programs to empower communities and how their role has changed over time (~15:00)
  • Other training modules the Ecobrick Exchange provides including helping schools to become zero waste from leveraging skills like composting, veggie gardens and growing plants to help local birdlife (~19:50)
  • Ecobricks as a solution for solving our global plastic problem and transforming behaviours (~24:00)
  • Tracing Ecobricks to their origin in Guatemala and how Ian first became interested in the idea (~27:15)
  • The growth of Ecobricks around the world (~28:30)
  • Which bottles to use for making an Ecobrick (~29:00)
  • South Africa’s major sustainability challenges and how it’s changing (~30:00)
  • South Africa’s pledge to not accept organic waste into landfill (~33:20)
  • The opportunities for organic waste and how to make the most of living in an apartment (~23:00)
  • Ian’s thoughts on the next generation, witnessing the green movement in South Africa and the Greenpop Festival of action (~34:40)
  • Innovations, inspiring people and support systems Ian is inspired by (~35:40)
  • What’s next for the Ecobrick Exchange (~37:20)
  • Ian’s advice for all humans  (~39:00)
  • Ian’s practical tip for making a difference to the environment or the world more generally (~41:00)
  • Where to find the Ecobrick Exchange (~42:20)

“It’s such a transforming act. When you see how much plastic goes into one bottle and you see how much plastic is in your daily life…the idea is that the habit makes you more conscious of your daily footprint.”

Ian Dommisse
Ecobricks, Changing Behaviours & Building Schools In South Africa with Ian Dommisse on The Sustainable Jungle Podcast #sustainablejungle

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