ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION & ECOBRICKING
This project is a world-first that has won awards for innovation and excellence – it is ideal for people who are passionate about the environment. Volunteers contribute to the environmental conservation movement through sustainable building using EcoBricks, upcycling initiatives, direct clean-up action, and awareness workshops in Livingstone, a small town in Zambia. You will work closely with the local community to find sustainable and practical solutions for plastic waste.
Livingstone is a beautiful, rural town in southern Zambia just a stone’s throw away from the mighty Zambezi river and the border of Zimbabwe. It is a hub for visitors looking to experience one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World - Victoria Falls, locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, 'the Smoke that Thunders'. Livingstone is the ultimate playground for adventure-seekers, wildlife enthusiasts, and lovers of the great outdoors. Whether you’d like to bungee jump, swim in the ‘Devil’s Pool’, white water raft down the Zambezi, join a river safari or enjoy an African sunset, every experience in Livingstone is unique. The town itself is relaxed and friendly with an intriguing culture and history. Here, you’ll find arts and craft producers, museums, colonial architecture, traditional village life, as well as delicious local food and laidback African lifestyle.
You’ll be staying in the heart of Livingstone at a private volunteer house within the popular and vibrant Victoria Falls Backpackers Zambia. This comfortable backpackers’ is 15 minutes from Victoria Falls and is a 5 minute walk from Livingstone’s town centre which has many stores and a great selection of cafes and restaurants for you to explore at weekends. You will have access to a swimming pool, lounge, bar, fire pit area and even a climbing wall! These communal areas offer the perfect space to get to know each other and relax at the end of the day. Bedrooms are dormitory style with bunk beds and shared bathroom facilities, as well as daily housekeeping. The staff can share knowledge about the area and are happy to help organize river cruises, canoe safaris, and trips to Chobe National Park. You won’t want to leave your “new home” as the staff will become your new family!
You will receive three fresh and delicious meals a day cooked by local chefs during the week. For breakfast you can expect cereal and toast, along with a cooked option such as eggs, pancakes or French toast. Lunch could be a wrap, pizza or sandwich paired with a fresh crispy salad. For dinner you might have a pasta dish, curry with rice or an authentic stew. Vegetarian options are available and we can cater to most dietary requirements. At weekends you will have access to the kitchen to make your own food, though most volunteers choose to visit local cafes and restaurants. Café Zambezi makes great traditional Zambian food and is a favourite amongst locals, while Maramba River Lodge is a popular spot for sundowners and Fez Bar is a popular place to hang out with locals and do a little dancing in the evenings!
To keep in touch with family and friends back home, Victoria Falls Backpackers has complimentary WiFi for you to use during your stay. You can also purchase a SIM card with data bundles if you wish.
Weather in Livingstone tends to be stable and sunny from August until late October when the "monsoon" rains start to hit. Either side of this time, the weather is very pleasant. The climate is tropical or sub-tropical depending on altitude, with a hot, humid, and rainy season from mid-November to March and a dry season from April to mid-November. October is typically the hottest month of the year.
PROJECT IMPACT AREAS
SUSTAINABLE BUILDING WITH ECOBRICKS
A large part of this environmental conservation project will be using what you have collected on mass clean-ups to build things with EcoBricks. It is a relatively new concept of turning plastic pollution into something useful that can be used to build something and ultimately improve communities. Like walls and buildings.
An EcoBrick is a plastic bottle that is stuffed with plastic pollution and turned into a solid ‘brick’. Volunteers have used EcoBricks to build a compost bin, chicken coop and piggery, an ablution block, and benches for schools. We also run a swap shop with school students to encourage them to get involved. The students can swap EcoBricks they have made for stationary, toys, and football jerseys.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION WORKSHOPS
Using our environmental education curriculum, volunteers deliver workshops to schools, community groups, women’s groups, and local businesses on the importance of waste management and why environmental conservation is important.
Building awareness is critical for starting the journey of minimizing waste and can kick-start innovative and practical ideas from local community members that can help get rid of plastic in a constructive and sustainable way. Your workshops will introduce the issues and possible solutions to land waste, water waste, and how waste is affecting people’s health.
Creating practical ways for waste to be reused and recycled is a sustainable way to help locals make an income while also cleaning up the community. You will meet some of the people who are turning waste into products they are successfully selling.
But as an environmental conservation volunteer, you will also get involved with thinking up innovative ways to turn plastic pollution into product. This will include working with our community groups to trial new start-up initiatives that will help reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Litter clean-ups are a fun, quick way to make an immediate impact, and are a great excuse to get outside. The local community of Livingstone is always keen to get involved in these, so you will join large groups who meet up to clean villages and areas of natural beauty, including the banks of the Zambezi and Muramba rivers.
The Zambezi and surrounding national parks are home to some of Africa’s most iconic animal species who are threatened by plastic that flows from the nearby towns and villages. When possible, we also invite our students, women’s groups, and community leaders to join us on these!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
EcoBricks in Africa
What is an EcoBrick?
Ecobricks are an innovative recycling technique that takes old plastic bottles and fills them with clean garbage to create strong, multifunctional building bricks. EcoBricks can then create various solid structures, from tiny shacks to fences, tables, and library shelves!
How are EcoBricks used in Africa?
In Africa, many communities have limited to no access to proper waste management facilities. As such, single-use plastics and other litter are regularly left to pile up in residential areas, dumped on the side of the road, or burned, releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere. Waste pollution is becoming a serious problem across Africa, and there is a great need for collaborative community initiatives that put reducing, reusing, and recycling waste first. EcoBricks are one of those solutions! By taking excess waste, cleaning it, and using it to build firm bricks, EcoBricks have quickly become a game-changer in sustainably reducing waste and building eco-friendly community infrastructure.
Do EcoBricks help with environmental conservation?
Absolutely! Rather than bringing in new materials to build community structures, EcoBricks reuse and recycle previously discarded items and give them new life. By doing this, EcoBricks also reduce excess non-biodegradable waste from community environments, creating a genuinely cyclical approach to sustainability.
How does EcoBricking work?
Here's a fundamental review of the steps of EcoBricking! - Collect, clean and categorize discarded plastics: The first step of EcoBricking is collecting discarded plastics to fill each brick with. It's essential to ensure these plastics are clean and dry, so if they previously contained food, give them a quick wash and dry to ensure they are ready to be re-used! - Stuff your saved plastics in a clean plastic bottle: Typically, a smaller plastic bottle, about 600mL or less, will work best, as they take less time to fill up than a 1500mL plastic bottle. Use a large stick to firmly compress the plastic into the bottom of the bottle, working in small bits. - Weigh your brick: To ensure the best possible quality when building structures with EcoBricks, it's crucial to ensure they are the correct weight and density. For a 600mL plastic bottle, aim for a minimum weight of 200g (If you are using another volume of a different plastic bottle, simply multiply the volume by 0.33 to get the minimum weight). - Place the cap back on your EcoBrick, label it with important information on the side of the bottle (date, your name, weight, etc.) and store it for future use. Get building!
Livingstone, Zambia is safari country. Here, you can spot a whole lot of wildlife, with elephants being particularly prevalent along the river banks. do rhino bushwalks or even take a boat safari to spot elephants off the Zambezi River. Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park offers a convenient safari where you can spot elephant, zebra and more, against beautiful backdrops of the Zambezi River. The real highlight of the park is the re-introduced white rhino, which you can track on foot in a thrilling wildlife encounter! A water safari is also a fantastic way to see wildlife grazing on the river banks – expect elephants, hippos and crocodiles. Across the border in Botswana is Chobe National Park, famed for its huge elephant population (currently estimated at over 120,000!). An overnight safari to this National Park is a popular weekend activity that many past volunteers have enjoyed.
Livingstone is known as “Africa’s Adventure Capital” because there is so much to see and do. Take advantage of your proximity to the great and mighty Victoria Falls, as well as the other adventures the Zambezi has to offer. Zambezi boat cruises, white water rafting, and canoe trips are all ways in which you can encounter these great waters. You can also ride quad bike trails, swim in “Devil’s Pool” (seasonal) or view the breath-taking scenery from the air in a microlight or helicopter. For the adrenaline junkies, why not try the famous bungee jump or gorge swing?
Livingstone has a rich culture and you can embark on a walking or cycling village tour to a local African village, giving you further insight into the traditional way of life. You can also shop at some of the many markets and stock up on locally hand-made goods for your loved ones back home or find interesting local foods to try.
Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.