Caroline Malcolm is an Environmental Studies major at Northeastern University in Boston and has written an informative blog about Earthship Biotecture. Thanks Caroline!
Imagine living in a home built from indigenous and recycled materials that regulates its own temperature, generates its own electricity, treats its own sewage, harvests its own water, and produces its own food with little to no mortgage payments or utility bills. While it appears to be an out-of-this-world concept, Michael Reynolds, principal architect of Earthship Biotecture, has created fully sustainable, self-sufficient Earthship dwellings that can be built anywhere in the world in any climate.
Architectural pioneer and environmental warrior, Reynolds has spent forty years designing his Earthships. He is radically evolving the current way of living in order to reverse the negative impact of human development our planet in a way that is innovative, affordable, and accessible. Earthships are built upon Reynolds’s principles of biotecture, a combination of biology and architecture. The homes are built from 45% recycled materials including tires, compacted earth, glass and plastic bottles, and the balance from indigenous resources that use little to no manufactured energy. To prevent further degradation of the environment, Earthships make use of natural sources of energy, namely solar and wind, for heating, cooling, and electricity.
Aside from meeting energy needs, Earthships are treating sewage for water recycling, landscaping, and food production. Some waste is treated in an exterior botanical cell for use as “humanure” in outdoor gardens. Grey water from sinks and showers is used for year-round indoor growing.
Growers use layers of gravel, sand, and soil stacked in unique Earthship planters and the treated gray water enters from the bottom leaching upwards to the soil. Many Earthship dwellers create more growing space in their homes by installing hanging bucket planters from the ceilings that simulate the planters. PVC tubes inserted through the bottom of the bucket bottom water the plants, just as in an Earthship planter.
Using this method growers at the Phoenix Earthship in New Mexico produced a number of herbs and many colorful, exotic flowers in addition to a cornucopia of tasty, organic fruits and veggies including: broccoli, carrots, eggplant, corn, greens, squash, cucumber, peas, and watercress, tomatoes, blood oranges, grapefruits, limes, coconuts, strawberries, bananas, figs, melons, and pineapple.
From heat and electricity to fruits and vegetables, Earthships are transforming the lifestyle of many homeowners and restoring the health of the planet. By embracing the principles of biotecture to build a sustainable Earthship and relying on the natural materials and processes of the Earth to meet basic needs, individuals can break their dependency on expensive, toxic materials and fossil fuels to sustain themselves. In the spirit of the “garbage warrior” Michael Reynolds, we all must take part in the restoration of our planet and of independent living!
The latest initiative from the Earthship Biotecture folks is the “Pockets of Freedom” mapping project: A “County by county map of the United States where permitting for environmentally friendly housing is quick and easy.” For a chance to receive a book and DVD on Earthships, leave a comment here and let us know your thoughts!