The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines have been working towards sustainable development and self-supporting congregations. In February 2014, the delegates from EDNL’s Central Deanery met. The host congregation, St. Alphege, appealed to the delegates for assistance in constructing a new chapel. The current structure had been compromised by the three Ts, time, termites, and typhoons.
The Central Deanery’s chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew’s and other church members volunteered to take on the cost of the construction materials. They wished to tackle the project themselves rather than appealing to outside assistance.
But the brilliance continued. A week after the conference, the clergy and officers decided that at least a small portion of the chapel should be constructed out of Eco Brick. This is essentially a 1.5 L soda bottle that has been stuffed to the gills with plastic garbage, usually wrappers. When filled to a certain weight, these bottles can withstand a great amount of force and are used as a replacement to cement blocks in construction. This helps reduce the cost of construction materials, reduce the environmental impact of gathering sand and gravel, and helps with waste management. Many of the communities in the deanery have no garbage service. This means people have no choice to burn their garbage. Now, the community members could shove that trash into a coke bottle rather than burning or simply throwing it anywhere.
For this to become a reality, Central requested that the 8 congregations in the Deanery contribute a minimum of 15 Eco Bricks each. This small goal was soon overhauled. At Diocesan convention that year, it was decided that each church in the diocese, not just the deanery would contribute a number of bricks. Youth groups gladly undertook this project in many of the congregations. With this reduction in material cost, and the organization of the congregation to contribute six days of labor each to the church, the building was soon underway.
The initial goal of 120 Eco Bricks from the Central Deanery was more than exceeded. Along with concrete and lumber, the first material delivery included around 1,400 Eco Bricks. The construction began in October of 2014 and is making good progress. The people of St. Alphege even decided to build not just one but two walls out of Eco Bricks. While construction continues, the Diocese is continuing to support the project by producing another 1,000 Eco Bricks.
You can learn more about Eco Bricks by visiting their web site: www.ecobricks.org