The Earthship movement is more than just a bunch of dirty hippies living in a Mad Max-esque compound in the high desert of the American Southwest, as this short film illustrates.
Could you live in a home made from recycled and repurposed materials, including those normally considered to be trash and not building materials, such as old tires and beer cans, if it meant you could live more comfortably and sustainably? Would you choose to build your own funky house from stuff that gets normally gets tossed, if it meant that you could actually construct it yourself and avoid having to buy virgin building materials, such as new lumber, and could do most of the work by yourself?
Building your own home is a large and complex project, and not one that many people take on, for a variety of reasons, ranging from the lack of tools and skills needed to put up a modern wood-framed house to the incredible number of hoops that must be jumped through to get the design and construction of the home permitted and approved and inspected.
But if instead of building a traditional stick-frame house located in a conventional neighborhood, you'd prefer to take a leap into the wild world of alternative and DIY building and intentional communities, and are willing to do a lot of the work yourself, you might find a way to build your dream home more affordably by taking the road less traveled. One such path is the way of the Earthship, first built and championed by Michael Reynolds in Taos, New Mexico.
We've covered Earthships a number of times before on TreeHugger, and although the jury is still out on whether or not these unique homes are actually a better option than other alternative building techniques, they deserve to be considered as a potential housing solution in at least some areas of the world.
They're not for everybody, but then again, tiny houses are not for everybody either, even if they're a great option for some people. And the fact that these Earthship homes can be built with a minimal amount of new materials, and a whole lot of physical labor, means that those who are willing to undertake the construction of one are a different breed altogether, and are probably more suited than most to take on the unique challenges of DIY building.
For a fresh look at Earthships, this short film from the team behind The Adaptors podcast examines the people and issues involved in building and living in these "life rafts" (as creator Michael Reynolds terms them), which are described as being "radically sustainable."
"Outside of Taos, New Mexico, you'll find a community of people living in off-grid homes made of garbage. The homes are called Earthships and were invented by Michael Reynolds. We went to Taos to check them out."
Learn more about the "biotecture" of Earthships at the website, and if you're interested in the possibility of building a life raft of your own, Earthship Biotecture now has an app full of photos, construction drawings, materials lists, and other resources for building a "Simple Survival" version of these low-tech homes.