Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

Fr Mario Abzalon Alvardao Tovar MSC outside a chapel made from ecobricks (Missionaries of the Sacred Heart)

At the seminary for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Manila, thousands of plastic bottles can be found everywhere – repurposed into “ecobricks” used for projects around the grounds. Source: NCR Online.

Beyond construction, the novel bottle-bricks serve as ubiquitous reminders of the prevalence of plastics in the world and the efforts to reject the throwaway culture that Pope Francis regularly condemns.

“We have to care for our common home. And plastics destroy creation,” said Missionary of the Sacred Heart Fr James Espuerta.

Rector of the seminary from 2018 to 2023, Fr Espuerta, 53, for years led classes of seminarians in making the ecobricks.

Each brick starts with an empty 1.5-litre plastic bottle, then other plastics are cut into smaller pieces and pressed into the bottle with a bamboo stick. All plastics are cleaned first and sometimes painted for a more artistic look. The process can be time-consuming, with a single brick sometimes taking as long as one day to make.

The Missionaries often use finished ecobricks and cement to build planter boxes around trees, barrier fences for gardens, and the bases of outdoor concrete tables and chairs. Inside their church, they have formed stands for flowers in front of the altar as well as a manger for a nativity scene.

The Missionaries’ ecobricks program is part of their efforts under the Sowing Hope for the Planet campaign promoting ecologically sustainable actions among congregations and orders of women and men religious around the world. The Philippine order is also enrolled in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a Vatican initiative where Catholic institutions create seven-year sustainability plans in the spirit of Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.

“Human beings are not the only residents in the world. We also have our brother creatures, and we have to take care of them,” Fr Espuerta said. “Being responsible for the use of the plastic could be a good way to save our environment.”


In the Philippines, Catholic priests tackle plastic waste brick by brick (NCR Online)