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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Cossigny St, Beau Bassin-Rose Hill, Mauritius

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Cossigny St, Beau Bassin-Rose Hill, Mauritius


Registered: December 2017
Posts: 1
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Ecobricks for Making Cost Effective and Durable Water Tank

As citizen of a beautiful tropical island named Mauritius, it's of my responsibility to preserve its ecosystem and what it has to offer us. We recently discovered that most of the students would prefer to use plastic bottles instead of reusable bottles.This accumulation of plastic waste, namely plastic bottles, walks alongside with the problem of water supply in school. A potential solution to overcome these problems is to use plastic bottles to build an ecological water tank for the collection and storage of rain water. Since the perk of living a tropical island is frequent abundant rainfall, the idea of an ecological water tank was perfect.
The ideology behind this project is that we cannot just limit ourselves by buying just green (buying products which will pollute less the environment), and that we can up-cycle the products and further reduce the carbon dioxide footprint on the planet. Thus departing from consumerism ideology till reaching a state of 'light green consumerism'.
When the project was still in its bud stage(started midyear 2016), the school administration was informed about it and particularly about its ecological implications. Fortunately, the school has a strong leadership who believes that new approaches to developing project should be promoted and that students should be encouraged, as far as possible, to realize sound projects and permission was granted for the construction of the water tank in the school premises.

An Apprentice Ecologist project on behalf of the NIcodemus Wilderness Project inspired me to write this essay and promote the willingness of my school, its student and staffs to eradicate one of the biggest problem of the century namely plastic bottles. Since I believe that the purpose of any project should not only limit itself to the social dimension but also have a profound positive impact on mother earth. This project aims to ensure the well-being of the students by providing an alternative environmental friendly water collecting system.

Firstly discarded PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles were collected, manually sorted by size and volume which were then washed and dry. These plastic bottles were then filled with soiled making it airtight and compact then sealed.The location for the tank was chosen based on proximity to a nearby gutter and land space availability. The water tank was built behind my biology laboratory were there was more than enough space. Dimensions for the tank were chosen based on conventional water. The circumference for the tank was drawn on the land by using a rod attached to a string [whose length is equal to the radius of the tank]. The rod was planted in the center of the land space, and the string was use to draw a circumference around the rod. Then the foundation of the tank was made using cement and rocks and it was level. Regarding the length of the bottles as the outer radius, they were laid around the circumference forming a cylinder thus making the wall. The wall was further reinforce by creating a mesh with rafia then cement was used to roughcast the structure making a smooth surface on the inside and outside thus protecting them from direct sunlight thus making them not only waterproof but also very durable . A tap was then inserted at the very bottom of the tank between the bottles to allow easy removal of water from the tank.The height of the tap was calculated based on the height of potential vessels which could be used for retrieving the water.

Being strong, durable and versatile, plastic water bottles were an ideal material for this project, more than 2000 water bottles of 1.5 litres and filling them with soil made them 20 times more stronger. This idea was first developed by Eco-Tec by building houses with soil filled water bottles for many African countries. It forms a valuable alternate building material which is low in cost and maintenance and along with its long life it is excellent value for money. PET bottles are non-biodegradable.Therefore, any structure made with it can last a couple of hundred years or more.Furthermore, replacing normal conventional blocks with plastic bottles will help our environment in many ways. Waste creations will be greatly reduced as bottles become a resource and attract value. Improve sustainable management of plastic bottles will greatly reduce pollution of land and water bodies. This is a great step in reducing carbon emissions during blocks prodections and contruction materials.

Since being an outdoor project it was definitely weather bound. The base of the tank was done in one day but the week that the filling of the bottles was planned, there was heavy rainfall. The soil was humid, which made the filling of the bottles an almost impossible task and this activity was postponed. The coming week too had its load of rain. By that time, the project was two weeks late. To further complicate the problem, whilst at the beginning we had plastic bottles been delivered to us by the students, that source rapidly dried up. Due to the decision taken at the beginning of the project to only take plastic bottles of size 1.5 liters to ensure the strength of the water tank. And as the first set of bottles collected were Coca-Cola and Sprite, and with the frame of mind to ensure conformity of the structure, student were asked to bring these specific bottles if they had them.
So when the supply of bottles from school students started drying out, this outsourced our supply. Mission Verte and Polypet Recyclers Ltd helped us to collect the remaining needed plastic bottles. Both companies were keen to help us in this venture.

Reusing the plastic bottle is considered as sustainable consumption pattern which has a feedback loop after the consumption. The pattern will not lead to waste which means it follows the reusing and up-cycling process. This project has been limited by time as we almost arrived at the end of school year 2016 but this is not the end of this project. So at the beginning of 2017, more bottles were collected, filled and laid cylindrical to make the wall till it was completed in it entire and was ready to be used.
Above all, this project has taught me a very big lesson. I have witness the strong implication of many people, ranging from students, teaching and non-teaching staff, NGOs and private companies. It has help in as an environment lover to learn how to recycle and am now using reusable bottle in everyday life instead of normal plastic bottled. Added to that, I and fellow classmates even participated to an annual science quest with this project and has happily bagged the fourth place. Overall I have made new friends, discovered skills that I never thought I had, increased my leadership skills as i had guide the smaller students into helping in this project, explain to them the importance of thinking green and to explain in front of a big audience why this project was important to the environment and it showed me that little project and acts like this can make an enormous difference . It not only has it benefited me but also my fellow friends as this water tank is now used to water a small hanging garden we made and also cleaning nearby classes.The plastic bottles will take several decades before its degradation. So I do hope that several generations of school students will use the water from this tank. And above all, that several generations of thinkers will be educated in the need to pollute less and think wise.
Date: December 31, 2017 Views: 1771 File size: 57.0kb : 309 x 313
Hours Volunteered: 1344
Volunteers: 50
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 11 to 50
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