January 5, 2012 Day Three
Today went well even with the wind still going strong. Luckily it keeps the temperature down which has been fairly high recently. The weather here is mirroring what we normally see in October with the wind and March with the heat. 2012 thus far has been a little weird weather wise. Only two of the five families showed up today and I lost my two foremen for the entire morning who had to go to Sonsonate to get the funds out of the bank. We finally figured out what the problem was: the bank account number has two numbers at the beginning that you don’t use for the bank account. Wish they had told us that sooner and we could have gotten all of our funds last Tuesday when we first went to the bank. Lesson learned for sure.
I was thinking today as I was stuffing bottles that I should definitely write a little blurb for this blog about the best way to stuff a plastic bottle. It is actually quite the art form as you have to make certain that you are stuffing the bottle from all sides and angles so that in the you’re your bottle is literally as heavy and hard as a brick, which is why we call them ¨eco bricks.¨ See below and enjoy! (BTW one of my foremen made me a new and improved bottle stuffer which is pretty amazing and doesn’t tear up my hands. It’s a metal bar just long enough to stuff the bottle and thin enough to fit inside but its heavier than a bamboo stick and doesn’t break. Its also heavier which helps with pushing down the plastic bags in the bottle to further compact them. It also has a rubber tube that covers the handle bit so that I can push and pull the bar down without the metal tearing across the palm of my hand)
A Good Way to Stuff a Bottle
Total stuffing time: depends on how much experience you have but at least 20 min for a bottle of 1.25 L
A plastic bottle
LOTS of plastic bags of different sizes, shapes, etc. You´ll probably want to have at least 200 on hand if not more. They need to be DRY which is the most important thing otherwise your bottle will mold from the inside out and smell really bad. They also can not have any food residue on them. They don’t have to be 100% clean but please make sure they are dry! You can only use plastic bag material, no paper or other materials can be used.
A stick to smush down the plastic bags. Mine is a metal bar which is like rebar of 3/8 in size with a rubber tube around its curved handle. But you can use a bamboo stick or branch of a tree. Gloves or an old sock is recommended for your hands.
Strong arms (just kidding, but if you fill enough bottles you will have them)
When you begin the process of filling your bottle remember: you have to make sure the entire bottle is stuffed to capacity, so go slow and make sure all sides are fully packed to the max before continuing on in your stuffing. Don’t add too many bags at once. You also want to make sure you are comfortable and best situated to give yourself the best leverage for pushing down your stick into the bottle. I prefer sitting on the floor with the bottle or on a bench with the bottle between my legs. Other people prefer to sit or stand with the bottle on a table but try out different positions and see what works best for you. Also, use your whole body to push down onto your stick when you start to really fill up your bottle, you don’t have to just use your arms.
To start, I usually stuff in about 4 or 5 bags and then use my stick to push them all down to the bottom, making sure to fill even the ridged bottom. It helps if you use your stick, sliding it along the sides of the bottle as you turn it to evenly compact. Once you have the bottom nice and compacted with various bags, keep on going until you reach the top. Remember, you can always fit another bag in there. Once you have the entire bottle filled almost to bursting (don’t worry, it won´t break but it might break you), then you know that you have filled it enough. Make sure to continuously slide the stick down along the sides of the entire bottle and smush into the center as well.