What started as a casual viewing of a documentary on youtube, turned into a serious fascination and interest for Derrick and me. It propelled us to leave the beaches of Southern California behind and spend some time in the high desert of northern New Mexico. At first it taught us a new word: earthship. The documentary we watched was Garbage Warrior.
What is an Earthship?
Earthships are radically innovative and sustainable houses that can definitely be an answer to all kinds of ills on this planet. They are built using natural and recycled materials, such as cans, glass bottles and old tires, which are obviously cheap, if not entirely free. They are off-grid: they are not reliant on public utilities or fossil fuels. Earthships make use of thermal mass, solar and wind energy and have a completely self-contained sewage treatment system. They also harvest rain water and incorporate food production.
In other words, you can build an earthship in the middle of nowhere, connect it to no grid whatsoever and it will be an independently functioning home: warm in the winter, cool in the summer, with running water for all your household needs (as well as those of the food you grow), electricity for all modern conveniences and no bills to pay. Now what’s not to love about that?
For full disclosure, you literally have to build it in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately our laws and building codes severely restrict where and how you can build earthships (and other non-conventional housing types), which is truly shameful and a clear shortfall of our society. Innovations that benefit humanity and the planet as a whole but fail to generate profits for big companies tend to get the cold shoulder from regulators and politicians.
Innovation from New Mexico
Earthship development was first started in Taos, New Mexico, which is the location of the Earthship Biotecture headquarters. It is also the location of the oldest and largest earthship communities. But the movement is spreading and earthships are being built all over the world. Earthship technology is also constantly evolving and can be adapted to different climates. It can further be combined with other innovative building methods, making it a very attractive answer to many people seeking solutions beyond conventional housing.
Earthship in My Future
I have never been able to look at conventional housing the same way again since discovering earthships and experiencing them in person. There is no question in my mind. I absolutely want to live in my own earthship-hybrid, grow my own food and live in harmony with nature. It may be a few years down the road and I don’t yet know where… But I can already see it happening.
Have you heard about earthships before? Or other types of innovative, sustainable, off-grid housing?
All images © 2014-2017 Pauliina Parris. // All rights reserved.