Hubby and I have been hoping, and wishing, and dreaming lately of the day when we might be able to get things in order and start building an Earthship. Okay at first when I told him about them he laughed at me. Then I brought home some books about earthships and read them while he was laying in bed next to me, on his laptop. In my excitement I think I almost knocked his computer off his lap a couple times to shove the book in front of him. But he started to get enthusiastic too, especially when he heard that I would like for him and I to do much of the building/work ourselves. Yes, this is more like a 5-15 year plan kind of dream but now that he is FINALLY on board I am super excited. All that would be missing is the eco village… that is still a no go. ;)
So what is an Earthship? According to Wikipedia’s definition, an earthship is a type of passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials. They are primarily constructed to work autonomously and are generally made of earth-filled tires, utilising thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. They also usually have their own special natural ventilation system. Earthships are a type of off-grid home, which minimizes their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels.
They are basically homes made of tires, cans, bottles, recycled materials, and garbage. Usually they are halfway underground and they run completely on their own. I am fascinated with how water is used in these homes. The house is designed to send mass amounts of rain water into a cistern. From there it feeds sinks. After it goes through the sinks (aka washing dishes) then it goes into an indoor planter to water your indoor food garden. Unabsorbed water goes down into a system of pipes that feeds the toilet and then after the toilet is flushed it FINALLY goes into a septic tank. Amazing!
Energy is harnessed with solar or wind or both and the house itself is designed to handle heating and cooling utilising thermal mass. One of my fave features in many earthships is that they construct inner walls using colored glass bottles inside the clay. Then the sun shines into the house, through the bottles, and you have shards of colored light in the interior rooms… garbage can be gorgeous. I have only seen pictures of them but hopefully this spring I will finally make the 2 hour trip to see the only earthship in Ohio.
Recommended Reading: Earthship: How to Build Your Own, Vol. 1
Top Photo from Flickr.