Over the years, as Iâ€™ve become more and more in touch with the ways of green and natural living, Iâ€™ve started to become more aware of the things in my home that arenâ€™t quite what they could be. We rent now for a variety of reasons, but one reason Iâ€™m grateful for that is because weâ€™ll have the opportunity to build the house of our dreams when weâ€™re ready.
Researching the best ways to build that dreamÂ home is something Iâ€™ve developed quite a passion for. During my research, I stumbled uponÂ a concept that I find pretty fascinating: Earthships.
No, Iâ€™m not planning to blast off the earth in a ship. But I am planning to build a home that has everything we need to live sustainably on earth, and you can live in a sustainable Earthship, too.
If you havenâ€™t yet heard of Earthships, youâ€™ll likely find them just as fascinating as I do if you care deeply about our planet. Here are some of the main features that make a home a sustainable Earthship.
Use of totally natural and/or recycled materials
A focus on the use of local materials is of great importance in the construction of an Earthship. The focus is on sustainability and accessibility of materials.
The most common materials that create the outer walls of an Earthship are old, recycled tires stuffed with earth. Then those tires are covered in mud. Recycled glass bottles and cans can be used to make more colorful and unique interior, non-weight-bearing walls.
The use of these materials has a variety ofÂ benefits. They are more durable and resilient than traditional building materials like wood. They hold up better in earthquakes and they donâ€™t rot or become susceptible to termites over time.
Little to no need for heating or cooling systems
Did you know that our planet is capable of delivering temperature stability without the need for pipes or wires? The sun is basically a nuclear power plant and the planet is a thermally stabilizing mass.
The materials used to build Earthships take advantage of the natural properties of earth to maintain comfortable temperatures in nearly all climates. Depending upon the climate in your region, you can adjust the design of your Earthship to accommodate yourÂ heating and coolingÂ needs naturally.
Total power autonomy
The design of Earthships allows them to survive off the power grid (or it can be tied in, depending upon your needs). They are designed to produce their own electricity by using solar power and/or wind power.
Sustainable, optimized water collection and use
That water is then used four times. The first time itâ€™s used to bathe or wash dishes. Itâ€™s then cleaned and used to water indoor gardens. Itâ€™s then filtered again and used to flush toilets. Finally, itâ€™s treated and used to water outdoor gardens.
Nothing goes to waste in the water use design, and the groundwater is never polluted, either.
Increased food independence
As mentionedÂ above, Earthships are typically designed to have indoor and outdoor gardens. Because of the design of the water collection and use system, gardens can be watered using water filtered after other household uses.
Completely contained sewage treatment system
We discussed gray water being used to flush toilets after it has watered the indoor gardens. This gray water does not smell and is much more eco-friendly than using fresh water in your toilets.
In addition, once the gray water has been used to flush the toilets, itâ€™s treated and ready to feed your outdoor garden. Donâ€™t worry, the systems are designed to then flow to a conventional leach field, so thereâ€™s no worry about the treated water polluting aquifers. Itâ€™s really a well-thought-out design!