How’d you like to never see a utility bill again, but still be able to enjoy hot showers, a washer and dryer and all of your other favorite creature comforts? This may sound like a sketchy rental listing, but that’s only the start to the benefits of living in one of the most sustainable houses there is: the Earthship!

Other benefits include but are not limited to: access to fresh fruit and berries like oranges and bananas in your living room any time of the year; reducing the waste stream by using old bottles, cans, and tires for construction; and the sweet sweet knowledge that you aren’t harming the planet.

While these dwellings can be built anywhere in the world 1, we’re heading to Taos, New Mexico on this edition of Saturday’s Around the World to meet the mind behind the Earthship revolution, architect Michael Reynolds. Then, we’ll have a few friends show us what it’s like to stay in one!

Please just don’t hold us responsible for any and all dreams of beer bottle walls and garden-lined halls you’ll have after you see these amazing homes.

Simplifying our housing!

Between plumbing, heating, and electricity, most of us are reliant on man-made systems to provide what we need to survive. But the community we’re about to visit isn’t connected by pipes and wires. Instead, these early-adopters are harnessing a wave of regenerative living that’s opening up possibilities around the globe!

Back to basics, but still able to binge-watch that Netflix show.

What started in 1972 with a house made of beer bottles in Taos, New Mexico is now a community of nearly 100 people, with more and more popping up around the world. (Seriously, they’re even building these to help the housing crisis in northern Canada.)

Created out of only natural and recycled materials and costing virtually nothing to run after the initial building costs, Earthships help save endless resources. With a greenhouse attached to the building, solar and wind energy, thermal mass and passive solar heating, and a super cool water harvesting system that collects snow and rain, if you live in one of these babies, you’re pretty much all set.

“We build out of trees but we don’t want to get rid of them, and we want to get rid of garbage, so why don’t we build out of garbage? It started to be kind of a contrived effort to recycle and has ended up the best way I know of to build regardless of recycling”
— Michael Reynolds, creator of Earthships

So, how did this idea actually come to be? How do they even function? And what’s it really like to live in one of these other-worldly looking buildings?

To get us started on this journey into the world of the Earthship, we’re turning to this fantastic video from Flora Lichtman and Katherine Wells to meet the man who started it all, Michael Reynolds:

Find more work from Flora Lichtman and Katherine Wells by clicking their names respectively! You can learn more about them and hear their podcast The Adaptors, about how people are preparing for the future by clicking here!

Want to get a bit closer?

Okay, in the first video you got a little bit of a tease of what living in these homes is like. But now we’re turning to Garrett Werner and Niki Ang from Buzzfeed to get a look at the experience of staying in one of these off-the-grid homes. They’re there for three days to see if Earthships are really up to all the hype!

It’s the coolest tour you’ll go on for a while, guaranteed. Take a look!

Discover more places people call home with Garrett and Niki in their series Home Buddies by clicking here!

Tapping into the free resources from the planet!

I don’t know about you, but the idea that I could cool or heat my home without fearing a bill at the end of the month sounds like a dream.

If you think about the way most of us live now, we’re disconnected from the basic systems that keep us alive. Most of us are dependent on paying for things like heat, water, and sewage. It’s easy to forget that our basic resources could be free! Better yet, that we’ve always had access to them, we just haven’t been using the right systems.

How wonderful is that?

If there’s a way of living out there that can not only reduce living expenses but reduce the amount of rubbish littering our planet and our continued impact on it, that’s huge progress! Even if this isn’t a possible way of living for most of us right now, there are certainly bits and pieces that could be integrated into what we’re already doing. Maybe it’s a rain garden or greenhouse, solar panels, composting, or even rethinking the materials we use to create our next project; by staying curious about how we can use our waste differently to tweak our established systems, we inch closer and closer to a more sustainable future.

These next few stories explore some other achievements we’ve made by working with the planet. They use what we already have, instead of taking more, to create fantastic products and programs!

15 minutes

Artificial Intelligence Meets Black Soldier Flies and Farming!

When it comes to saving the resources of our planet, we are all hoping for the next big idea to come along. Well, this one involves a very tiny creature that brings an amazing resume to the task. Let's meet them!

Read More

14 minutes

Reinventing Plastic with Methane and Microbes

How close are we to reinventing plastic? Well, it looks like a future with easily accessible, truly biodegradable plastics that can replace the harmful plastics we use today is right around the corner—and it uses the power of bacteria! 

Read More

9 minutes

Turning Pollution into Paint: A Kickstarter Success Story!

Here's an update on a project we featured two years ago when it was still a primordial concept. Now it's an inspirational story with all the elements of the best kind of progress!

Read More

So, how badly do you want to live in an Earthship now?

Head over to the Earthship Biotecture website to learn everything you’d ever want to know about Earthships: how to build them, how they work, or how you could stay in one for a few nights to get a feel yourself! (Airbnb also has some great rental options—I’ve checked.)

There’s an online academy also happening with them right now if you’d like to dive in and learn about these awesome homes but can’t make it to Taos.

If you’ve ever visited an Earthship, please let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein

Looking to explore more amazing innovations?

Dive into a world of ideas, projects, and products leading us forward by clicking the button below!

Innovations on EWC! 

Notes:

  1. “Home Sweet Earthship: Building a Self-Sufficient Bio-House from Old Tires and Recycled Cans.” Scientific American, 19 Jan. 2010, www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-talks-earthship/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.
  2. lichtman, flora (2015). Meet the Earthship. [online] Vimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/147652356 [Accessed 27 Feb. 2020].
  3. BuzzFeedVideo. “We Lived In An Earthship.” YouTube, 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaZSQat6SYs&feature=emb_title. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.