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Earthships: Sustainable Alternatives to Traditional Housing

Tue Jan 18, 2022 on Blog

Earthships: Sustainable Alternatives to Traditional Housing

With the onset of the pandemic, supply chain issues, climate change, and grocery shortages, Earthships have emerged as an option to “traditional” residential housing. Devised by builder Mike Reynolds, these “vessels” are off-grid, self- reliant homes build from tires, dirt and garbage. An entire community of Earthships, found in New Mexico, sits on 630 acres, where its residents treat their own waste, collect their own water, grow their own food, and regulate their own temperature by relying on the sun, rain, and earth. Although Reynolds has been building Earthships since the 1970s, the demand for such housing vessels has soared as more people seek housing alternatives.

Earthships: A Lesson in Self-Sustainability?  

Picture courtesy Washington Post

While 40% of a typical Earthship is built from natural or recycled materials, with foundations and walls made from used tires, working with solar panels that regulate the Earthship’s temperature year- round. Inside the Earthship is cavernous living spaces that contain a natural ecosystem from which water, for instance, is first used for drinking, showering, and hand washing before it moves to plants, herbs and flowers, and then the toilet, ultimately fertilizing outdoor plants via a water organization module. It is reported that a typical Earthship can produce 25 to 50% of the food residents need, depending upon diet, climate, and garden maintenance, and that there are substantial utility cost savings.

Before one embarks on purchasing an Earthship, one must complete Earthship Academy, at a cost, where one learns about construction and maintenance since Earthships are experimental and evolving. Studies have been done on Earthships in Paris, London, and Spain which illustrate how a particular Earthship, the Earthship Biotecture’s Global Model, works well in different climates.

While there are stories of failed Earthship projects, the concept of a community of Earthship residents is fascinating as more and more people seek ways of becoming more dependent upon themselves for overall basic needs of food, shelter, and sustenance. Whether you are able to work remotely from an Earthship is dependent upon solar energy, and solar powered routers, some people are purchasing Earthships as rental properties while others seek refuge from the effects of the pandemic on the global supply chain.

What does all this mean?

Picture courtesy Washington Post

While we are living with the pandemic, shortages in food, supplies, and housing still exist. Earthships may appear as an “off the grid” housing alternative; yet, they seem to be a viable self-sustainable housing option for those who are able to adapt.

Roy Oppenheim

From The Trenches


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