While UFO hunting and hot spring-hopping in Taos, New Mexico last week, we got to spend the night in an Earthship.
For all you non-hippies out there, Earthships are 100% sustainable, off-the-grid mansions made (almost) entirely out of recycled junk. We’re talkin’ old tires, beer cans, plastic bottles and mud. Admittedly, it doesn’t sound all that glamorous at first, but for luxury- and nature- loving free spirits like us, this place is a desert paradise.
A 15 minute drive outside Taos, across the Rio Grande Gorge, the Earthship World Headquarters is the largest “biotecture” community (a.k.a alternative eco-suburb) of its kind on the planet. Set on a sprawling 640 acres, a handful of fully-furnished “demonstration” ships are available year-round for nightly rentals — but, in the brochure’s words, “this is not just a hotel.” Well, obviously…
I am sitting in the Earthship Visitor’s Center right now, and a man is here to visit. He has a device that measures the CO2 in the air. He says he has never seen a number bellow 400 ppm, unless he is standing at the ocean where the air is very clean. Our Visitor Center measures at 276 ppm, making our air extremely clean he says. There’s no CO2 in our VC!
He has been to other eco friendly homes, and measured the air, saying that none have the clean air this building has. He says if the air is not clean it gives people headaches.
Nearly three decades have passed since Michael Reynolds built his first “radically sustainable” Earthship dwellings out of cast-off materials such as tires and beer bottles on the high mesas near Taos, New Mexico. His Earthship mantra, however, remains the same: “Live free.” That is, off the grid and without power bills.
Earthships have evolved from simple structures lacking flush toilets into multifloor homes with flat-screen TVs, wi-fi, and greenhouses brimming with crops. And they’ve gone from fringe to 53,000 Facebook fans as a new generation tunes in to Reynolds’s alt-sustainable message. Today, there’s also a school, the Earthship Biotecture Academy, which teaches design principles and philosophy.
Still ‘crazy’ after all these years. In 1993 Michael Reynolds was way ahead of his time. Today, in 2012 Michael Reynolds is still WAY ahead of his time… The following article was published on January 10, 1993 in the New York Times Styles Section as America grapples with ecology and economy.
By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN
About 15 miles west of Taos, a road with no name tapers off into the flat tableland beneath the Tres Orejas, three small volcanic peaks. Soon the road disappears entirely. All that remains is a thick carpet of snow and a set of coyote tracks pitching toward infinity.
But if you can envision an Alternative Republic here, you don’t need a road. Thus, a frigid winter morning recently found Michael Reynolds, a one-man Monkey Wrench gang of architecture, barreling through the snowdrifts, his Dodge pickup swerving every which way, destined for an unsightly pile of tires and dirt, his new Atlantis: downtown Star.
Twenty-five years ago. Michael Reynolds assembled progressive architectural prototypes into one seminal idea: Earthships.
Integrating solar, wind, thermal mass, rainwater harvest, gray wa- ter recycling and indoor food production, the Taos, New Mexico – based architect builds homes from re-purposed garbage. The exterior shell and interior walls are made from used tires pounded full of dirt, glass bottles and cans, stacked and mortared together with mud.
Hi my name is (removed for privacy). I stumbled upon a few videos of your earth ships & could not believe there are still people like you on this god forsaken planet. I don’t want to sound or be foolish but i would love to join your team. In fact i would devote my life to help you further your work or even to just learn from your brilliance so that i may pass it down to my children. I know you probably get this everyday & cant recruit everyone under the Sun but i would gladly give up my job & this dead end society to explore alternatives ways of living. Its all to obvious the American culture is self imploding & is going no where fast. I am studying how to build an earthship with a dream to actually build one myself. I thank you for your work. you have saved so many lives with this work of yours. your are my hero & i have never said that about anyone ever in my life. thank you so very much for your contribution to humanity.
Our story has been fabulous. We have been thinking about building our own on our ranch in Nebraska so we stayed to see if its what we really want. It is and so much more. We fished in the pond and caught seven fish, all of which but two we threw back. We cooked the two we kept in a banana leaf with a pepper we picked from the garden along with rosemary we picked too. We also made tea from dried Hibiscus flowers and mint found in the garden. We cooked around eight eggs during our stay. All harvested from the chicken coop.
“Earthship Biotecture”: Renegade New Mexico Architect’s Radical Approach to Sustainable Living
New Mexico residents are trying to a break free from Los Alamos’ nuclear legacy by creating more environmentally sound ways of living. At the forefront of this struggle is renegade architect Michael Reynolds, creator of radically sustainable living options through a process called “Earthship Biotecture.” Reynolds’ solar homes are created from natural and recycled materials, including aluminum cans, plastic bottles and used tires. These off-the-grid homes minimize their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels by harnessing their energy from the sun and wind turbines. In Taos, New Mexico, Reynolds gives us a tour of one of the sustainable-living homes he created.
Earthships are 100% sustainable homes that are both cheap to build and awesome to live in. They offer amenities like no other sustainable building style you have come across. For the reasons that follow, I believe Earthships can actually change the world. See for yourself!
If you haven’t had the opportunity to run into Michael Reynolds, the Garbage Warrior, this is an excellent introduction. We wanted to interview Michael as he really is, a visionary looking toward an uncertain future but tuning into what we need to do in the present moment.