Peace On Earthbench Movement (POEM)

The Problem

Humans are the only species on this planet that produces "waste." There is no waste in nature. Indeed, waste is an illusion—a resource in the wrong place. Our entire world has become filled with human-produced plastic waste. Plastic doesn't biodegrade—it photodegrades, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces and bioaccumulating in our environment. This trash has accumulated in each of the five major ocean gyres, turning our ocean into a giant oceanic garbage dump. How do we inspire people to take action against this immense problem of plastic pollution? Bottle bricks— plastic bottles stuffed with trash until they become compressed like bricks— are a simple, temporary solution that helps address the issue of plastic pollution. Bottle bricks not only seal plastic trash from entering the environment, they convert it into a useable building material. Bottle brick benches therefore solve two predominate problems in our society—the proliferation of waste and the lack of community gathering places for collaborative action toward sustainable living. Bottle brick benches - or "Peace on Earthbenches," as we call them - engage community members to clean-up the environment and transform this waste into a community place. Although bottle bricks make a small impact on the issue of plastic trash as a whole, they make a huge impact on people's awareness of the problem and have been proven to inspire community action and environmental stewardship around the world.

Plan of Action

The Peace On Earthbench Movement (POEM) empowers people around the world to transform waste into a community place. POEM uses ecological education to empower youth and community members to clean up the environment, repurpose their trash into a building material (bottle bricks), learn natural building techniques, and then create a communal gathering area—a Peace on Earthbench— which serves as a living testament to the power of community action toward sustainability. The Earthbench effectively seals trash from entering the worlds’ oceans and rivers while serving a clear artistic, educational, and social function. How will a bench create peace on earth? Peace on Earthbenches symbolize our collective desire for a more sustainable, more just, and more peaceful world. These benches empower youth to clean up the environment as they lead a community outreach campaign to collect discarded plastic bottles, stuff them with trash, and create a green building material—bottle bricks. These benches foster community interaction and collaboration. And when they are completed, they create a place for communal gathering—a reinvigoration of the commons. The larger vision is to eventually build 1000 Bottle Brick Benches for Peace around the world, and retain one bottle brick from each bench. These bricks will be saved and eventually used to build the 1000th Peace on Earthbench in the Middle East, a global symbol of peace in the most volatile area in the world. Thus far, Peace on Earthbenches have been built in Ghana, Kenya, Guatemala, Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia, the Philippines, South Africa, throughout California, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, and Georgia, and projects are currently being planned in Ethiopia, Ecuador, South Sudan, New Zealand, Brunei, and more. We seek to develop the how-to resources and outreach to spread the POEM around the world and seal tons of harmful plastic waste into the largest global gathering place in the world—Earthbenches, built in peaceful, sustainable solidarity—that encircle the globe.

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