Okay, I’m not going to lie. When I first heard the term Earthship, the first thing I thought of was an image of a bunch of dirty hippies living in some primitive hut without electricity or modern-day luxuries. But the more we investigated the concept, the more we became infatuated with the lifestyle, quickly realizing Earthships have taken the concept of sustainable off-grid living and kicked it into hyper-drive.
These funky-looking homes are more than just an internet oddity; they are the next step in sustainable off-grid living.
So what is an Earthship?
Well, the simplest explanation is they are homes built out of recycled materials like old tires, bottles, and tin cans – I know; I’m not helping you forget the image of the dirty hippie living in a dirty shack, but stick with me.
As construction ideas around these unique homes evolved, they soon started being built with bags or tires filled with dirt, something that provides thermal mass that naturally regulates the homes temperature during both cold and hot temperatures.
Currently, there are over 2.5 billion tires stockpiled in the United States, with 2.5 million more thrown away every year. By taking these tires that would end up in landfills and turning them into building materials you can make a significant difference to the world. In fact, Earthships might be the future of sustainable building and off-grid living.
They are the ultimate 21st-century solution to problems that have plagued the building industry, and they take the concept of sustainable living far beyond any other form of “green” construction.
But do you really want to live in a home made of recycled materials?
While it may seem a bit weird at first, the fact is, these homes are not much different than regular suburban homes. You’re still able to have all the modern amenities and luxuries that you would have in a traditional home, but you get the added benefit of being able to sustain yourself without having to depend on the grid or outside services.
Earthships are fully self-sustaining homes that provide you with food, water, heat and when connected to solar panels all the electricity you need to power your electronics.
Examples of Earthships from around the world
To get a feel for what these homes are all about, check out some of these stunning examples from around the world.
Earthship Construction: Sustainable Homes Built with Recycled Materials.
The most important concept in the building process, is using materials that heat and cool the home without electricity, fossil fuels, or wood. The structural walls of the building are most commonly built with earth-rammed tires, but any dense material that can store heat will work. The walls are then strengthened with concrete.
Because the earth can be shaped into any form you like, the homes often have a unique look that further separates them from traditional homes.
The best thing about these homes is the way they are constructed. The thick, dense walls provide thermal mass, which naturally regulates the interior temperature of the home. Even in extreme environments, the homes are built to maintain constant temperatures of about 70 degrees throughout the year.
They are cheap, environmentally friendly, and completely sustainable.
Sustainable Living: How Earthship homes provide everything you need to live off the grid.
Earthships can be completely self-sustaining; giving you the ability to grow food throughout the year, both inside and outside your home. Even in the harsh desert southwest, Earthships can be built to provide you with all the water, food and electricity you need to live off the grid.
Earthships are built to collect and store water from the local environment. The water is captured from rain, snow and condensation and is stored in large cisterns. To further help with the sustainability of the home, all waste-water is collected, treated and used again in some fashion.
Greywater, water that is not suitable for drinking, is recycled and held in storage tanks and then used for things like flushing toilets.
Powering the Home
Earthships are built to limit power consumption and to collect and store energy from the environment. The way they are constructed requires very little power to heat or cool the home. They are designed to use the properties of thermal mass to keep a constant year-round temperature that is usually somewhere around 70 degrees.
Solar panels on the roof, combined with wind turbines on the property, give Earthships all the power they need to create a fully self-sustaining system.
Additional Information & Resources:
If you think that sounds like a good way to live, and want further information on these sustainable home, the following resources are a great way to start.