People's Post

Eco-brick bench built in memory of trail runner

Karoline Hanks and Greg Balfour test out the new eco-brick bench at Noordhoek beach.PHOTO: Project Noordhoeked
Karoline Hanks and Greg Balfour test out the new eco-brick bench at Noordhoek beach.PHOTO: Project Noordhoeked

Since completing the eco-brick bench dedicated to the late Wesley Sweetnam at Noordhoek beach, Project Noordhoeked and various contributors have said this is just the beginning of their work aimed at making the world more eco-friendly.

Karoline Hanks, manager of the community initiative, says she had been wanting to construct the bench in honour of Sweetnam, a well-known local trail runner and animal lover killed in an apparent house robbery last year – for the past six months.

“I put proposals out to various companies but getting the funds was quite challenging,” she says.

Luckily she ran into Noordhoek resident Greg Balfour who was eager to get involved.

“The funding (I provided) is from a company we’re launching next month called SOS – Save our Sealife. It’s a healthy kiddie’s dried fruit snack concept brand, and a shout-out to kids to be aware of single-use plastic in our oceans.”

The company will exhibit the product at the Natural and Organic Show in London in April with the intention of gaining entry into the British and European Union market to spread the word of conservation beyond Cape Town.

According to Hanks, the bench project was community-driven, with several organisations making contributions. “We used 1 000 eco-bricks to build it,” she says.

An eco-brick is a two-litre plastic bottle packed with used plastic to set density to create a reusable building block. The plastics, which are non-recyclable, would otherwise end up in landfill or in oceans. The tightly stuffed bottle is used to build the foundation of benches and even homes.

The eco-bricks were sourced from Silvermine Retirement Home, Red Herring Centre and Longbeach Mall.

“We build a wire cage, fill that with bricks, layer by layer, and then cement it,” says Hanks, adding that she and other volunteers have completed benches at schools in Fish Hoek, Athlone and Masiphumelele.

Balfour adds: “It was done so quickly! Not only did it use half a ton of unrecycled plastic but it was done in memory of a top individual.”

Project Noordhoeked has more exciting work planned for the near future, as does SOS. Both are gearing up to raise awareness of single-use plastics and nature conservation.

  • Follow Project Noordhoeked on Facebook, and @EarthAndCoSouthAfrica to find out more about SOS.

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