Extreme Green Living - Earthships!

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Earthships of Taos

A markerTaos, New Mexico -
Taos, NM, USA
[get directions]

I have always been intrigued by the way that people live. Different cultures, customs, lifestyles and homes. I was traveling recently and on the flight home I learned about an architect who had been building homes called "Earthships". These homes are designed by Earthship Biotecture in Taos, New Mexico. They range from crude to magnificent. Size and design vary according to taste.

Earthships are completely self sufficient and totally green. Solar panels, wind or a combination of both provide energy. Proper venting aids in heating and cooling. A rainwater cistern collects and recycles the water with a system of filtration that utilizes all of the water. The toilet is a compost system and after the water is filtered it may be used to water the indoor garden or outdoor planters.

The entire home is constructed of tires, rock, dirt, glass bottles and shell. Just about everything is recycled material.

Earthships are available for rental for those who think they may enjoy this lifestyle. Problems reported were the compost toilet which had an unpleasant, lingering odor and the shower water was said to have a strange odor as well. Huge bugs and no cell phone signal were a complaint for some. Most people said they loved staying there and were completely comfortable and would be happy to adopt this as their lifestyle.

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Straw Houses

Homes made of bales of straw are sprouting up all over the place. The idea of using environmentally friendly building material is wide spread as the earths resources are devoured by over population and waste. Straw is not only a cheap building material but it serves as a great insulator and is energy efficient in the right climates.

Different types of plaster may be used to finish the design. Some roof tops are made with corrugated metal and rainwater is collected for use. These homes can be very simple to extremely elegant. Don't let the big bad wolf scare you away - these homes can be built to withstand strong wind.

Heat, humidity, cold and moisture can be a problem in these homes. One person suggested buying the material as you use it - that way there is less waste of materials that can go bad or are not needed.

Shipping Container Cottage

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Container City 1

This project worked so well they are building Container City 2!
This project worked so well they are building Container City 2! | Source

Shipping Container Homes

Shipping containers have become a very popular building resource. Normally, shipping containers are destroyed so reuse of them is good for the environment. Many of these homes are designed to be energy efficient and extreme green living spaces. These containers can be purchased in kits that include the basic building materials for electrical and plumbing fixtures. Kitchen sinks, counter tops, built in shelves, walls and doors can be purchased along with labor and construction.

Some homes are constructed partially underground and have garden roof tops and some shipping containers have been made into elaborate tree houses. In more than one place - an entire city was constructed using these steel containers. The sky is the limit as far as where and how these heavy duty boxes can be used.

Some things to take into consideration before building your own home are land and building permits. There may be restrictions or building codes that need to be accounted for prior to construction.

As the economy falters - cheaper and more resourceful means of living are in demand. Natural resources can provide much cheaper, possibly free, energy. Many of these homes can be built for a fraction of the cost of the standard two story with a white picket fence. Your dream home may not have included a bale of straw or bottle of Bud Light but it is amazing how trash can be made into a gorgeous home with greener pastures.

"The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes." ~Harold B. Lee

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Comments 47 comments

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

I have always been intrigued by these... but there is just something about recycled water (well, that I recycled on my own anyway) that just gives me the creeps. I know things in houses go wrong and I would hate for the toilet water that was supposed to water the grass to suddenly end up in the icemaker.

However, I do think the idea of these are super cool and they might be all we have when we kill off all the resources from the earth.

Very cool hub! LOved it - especially the container city. I want one!


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas

Great hub!

I had seen the container homes before and I found them fascinating. We are simply going to have to be more creative in our building materials. Our world is quickly changing.

Great pictures and information. Voted up! :)


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

BBG - I know! I thought about the very same thing! What if the filter stops filtering? Ugh! I read several comments from people and they said the bathroom was smelly and I LOVE the idea of it but I don't think I could stand smelling it day after day. What about resale? How long would it take to find a buyer if you wanted to move?

I want a whole container city too! Wouldn't that be cool? I'd have each one designed differently and some of them look like fantasy houses! Gorgeous inside and out. Thanks so much!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Miss Olive! Thank you so much! I am really mesmerized by this idea. I would love to give it a try but I am pretty positive my kids wouldn't go for it:) lol. I do think it's an amazing idea and I could adapt.

I have been using your great tips and I think the hub looks better because of your help:). I have been working on a better layout and experimenting with different sizes of pictures. Thanks again for that too:)


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas

RH - the format looks GREAT in this hub! You did a wonderful job with the pictures. It was very easy to read and to follow. Pics were not distracting at all! LOVED it - really!

On another note - remember the movie Flashdance? I always dreamt of living in a warehouse like she did. Real industrial. Sort of like the lofts that are being made in downtown areas today. Too cool! :)


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas

FYI - you used the word toilet in the 2nd paragraph and have now been blessed with DRANO ads...hehe :)


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

That's funny! I bet my kids will be proud of me:) haha!

I remember that movie! That was a great one. I liked that big old warehouse too. There are many more unconventional homes. I just didn't have room to feature them all. Thank you again!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I like the idea of using straw as an insulation rather than the pink itchy stuff. The earthship house looks kinda cool, except for maybe the toilet and shower problems.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I once researched teepees and yurts. I also like the underground houses they build in Australia where it's so hot.

With our heat and tornadoes, underground housing really makes sense.

The container houses look good for rental property. Tenants would have a hard time destroying those!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

missolive.....My nephew, an architect from Brooklyn lived at one time in an "industrial warehouse" loft apartment. While it suited him, his lifestyle and taste, I felt weird as I stood in his WIDE OPEN living quarters. Ceilings to the sky, & enormous windows too high up to see out (although they provided massive sunlight) I can see where one may be able to "create" a very unique environment.....for me, it lacked "coziness/hominess"....know what I mean? (I don't think there is a word, "hominess"...but you know where I'm going.......lol


Jrandol62 profile image

Jrandol62 5 years ago from Where ever the road takes me....

Great hub RHW! Would be cool to live like that, but I agree with the comments about the water not being filtered correctly....How's your coffee dear?....LOL Nice Drano ads as well!!....Good layout and pics too! Have a great one friend...JR


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Susan - I agree on all counts:). I love the idea of the Earthship and using tires and stuff that would just junk up the world anyway. Tires are horrible to dispose of! I would not be able to adjust to the smell of toilet water either! Lol. Thanks so much!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Austin a I saw those Yurts! Pretty cool. I didn't see the underground houses in Austrailia but it sounds neat! I also think they would be safer for storms or maybe even for 12/21/2012! Ha!

Good point about the container housing being good rental material too - it would be indestructible! It would probably be less costly ti restore too. I can't believe they are making entire cities with them! I saw some really vibrant colors in one place - they looked swanky:)


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Fpherj48 - your nephews space sounds pretty awesome but I do know what you mean. Some of the designs I saw just seemed impractical for everyday living. I think you invented a new word homie! Lol.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Jeff! Thanks so much!

I know - I just wouldn't be able to drink water (or cook with it) if I couldn't KNOW the water was really being 100% filtered! Even when I travel - I can tell the difference in the taste of tap water sometimes. When in the Bahamas - it smelled so funny in one hotel I didn't let the kids drink it. It was supposed to be filtered but I wondered how long since they ran a check on the system in place! Ew!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Hey Real Deal! These ideas are genius! I could live in a shipping container cottage, less to clean and tend to! Of course I'd only last a day since I'm claustrophobic and detest being confined! Haha! Excellent hub and it does give us ideas and hints on how we could all do more to "Go Green"! Superb:)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

BTW...your "e" looks so elite:)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

I really like the idea of building from recycled and natural materials like shipping containers, tires and rocks, dirt, shells and bottles! The homes you have pictured look attractive and homey! I wonder if our zoning laws would permit it? LOL

When we visited Rhyolite Ghost town in Nevada, there was a cabin built out of bottles- so some old-timers were vey innovative. It was really neat! This is a great idea for a hub! Voted up!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Sunshine - you would have to put like four of them all together to avoid the claustraphobia:) lol I really do think they are just amazing! I saw some of the neatest houses all made of glass bottles - very crafty! Glass bottles come in clear, red, blue, green and of course brown so they are really colorful and bright.

I think they should have used a capital E - don't you? LOL j/k too funny! Thank you and ditto my dear!!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Stephanie! Thank you - and I agree! I was so excited to write this hub because the photos alone seem so cool. I wish I could have found more pictures of some of the indoor photos - some of them are just breath taking. It seems like such a beautiful way of living and being good to the environment.

They have tried throwing tires into the ocean for disposal and that is hurting the coral reef and underwater life - they would burn forever polluting the atmosphere so what better way to recycle them? I think it's just genius!

Aw man - another reason I would have loved Rhyolite - I have to get back there:)


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Those container homes look really neat, Kelly. And the earthships were appealing, too, until I read some people complained of 'huge bugs.' Now 'just bugs' would probably annoy me but huge bugs make me want to run the other way. Sorry.

Clever hub though and great photos.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Drbj - oh me too! I do not like insects or bugs and especially those big ones! Gives me the shivers just thinking about that. Dave makes fun of me because I'm the only person on the block who has the outside sprayed for insects during freezing weather. I try to rationalize with him that we live next to a cornfield - all those bugs are trying to get in my warm house! Haha! The Pest Control people come quarterly - I like things that are even. If I missed a season it would be awkward:) lol

Thanks so much!


Apryl Schwarz profile image

Apryl Schwarz 5 years ago from Nebraska

Very interesting! Voted up!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Apryl! Thank you so much! I really appreciate the read and the comment:)


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Interesting hub on the varieties of building materials, I'll call them by this name, we are still to tap into. Excellent hub. voted up. The pics are stunning.


mythicalstorm273 profile image

mythicalstorm273 5 years ago

This was very informative and interesting! I have read a lot about these types of houses, but you taught me a few new things. Honestly though I like the ones that are made out of dirt and grass better. They use wood for a great deal of the house as well which isn't as environmentally friendly, but usually they have the grass growing on the roof top and all the electric and everything is still all natural. Plus they are cozy and from what I've heard very clean. They do not have the same types of problems you listed, but I also do not know that they are on the same 'environment safe' level. I just love looking at the different ways people build their houses to both save money and to save the environment! Although I would not like to live in one of these houses I wish more people would do this... it would save our environment so much faster! Another great hub!!!!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

Fascinating, but I think I'll stick to my conventional and much loved home. Up and interesting.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

Oh main - I got solar panel ads... go figure.. I was really looking forward to the toilet ads.

Now - on the topic of toilets. I dont' think I could do green toilets. I mean - is the toilet in the same room as the shower? I would never get out because I would be like... nope not done scrubbing yet... I still smell! LOL

Ah the things that intrigue me. Love this topic.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Rajan Jolly - those houses are so interesting to me - what gtrat ideas these people have come up with! Thank you so much for the read and the up votes! I appreciate it!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Myth! I love all those styles of houses. They are getting better and better. In the Earthships they have TV, Wifi and interect available! I would live in one if I didn't have the girls. Imdo see it as extreme and I do not think I want to force them into they lifestyle. I think I'm buying a small farm next:). I've been working on my husband about it! Lol


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Breakfastpop! So nice to see you! Thanks I think they are fascinating but I have to stick with my conventional home as well:). Don't think the 10 & 12 year old could conform! Haha maybe I will retire in something like that? Who knows what technology will bring in 10 more years! Thanks so much!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Stacy - that is my main fear. I wouldn't be able to hack the "scent" and I would hate feeling like I was trying to cover it up! It would feel like sweeping dirt under the rug and sprinkling it with carpet fresh! Lol

I got Drano ads this time! Apparently Drano has got my back side again! Lol


Daffy Duck profile image

Daffy Duck 5 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

This reminds me of a show called "Junk Raiders". They repair/remodel homes with anything they can find. Shopping carts, signs, crates, and whatever else they can find. Have you ever seen that show?


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hey Daffy - no I haven't seen it! Sounds like a show I would love though. We have a museum for kids here and every single thing was made from recycled material. It is amazing - 10 foot slides - an airplane the kids can crawl to via cat walks - City Museum. Reallly neat place.

Thanks! I'm going to see if I can find that show:)


Daffy Duck profile image

Daffy Duck 5 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

Junk Raiders is on the ION Life station.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Thanks Daffy! I'll see if it's on the Dish I have - I'd love to watch it! I like the antique road show too:) thanks again!


neeleshkulkarni profile image

neeleshkulkarni 5 years ago from new delhi

the most eco friendly houses are the ones made using local technology and materials and building the way houses have been built for ages in the specific area.It is when we try to impose externalities into the environment that problems begin to occur.i have a classic case of Dharamshala ( the second rainiest place in India)which used to traditionally have sloping roofs made of locally available stone tiles.For some reason people started the practice of constructing concrete houses with flat roofs and lo and behold all of the leak.besides they also develop cracks because the quality of local sand is not good.many such examples abound.

also the defects mentioned by you like smelly toilets and water being hard and soapy can be easily rectified.i am water filtration man and know that with some regular maintenance filters would always work well.Also with the appropriation plumbing there is no way toilet water can get into the icemaker.lol


Barbra-House 5 years ago

Loved this Hub, With problems in the world an climate ATM more and more people are looking for alternative greener ways of living.

Hopefuly we are going to see more of these properties showing up a lot more, would be amazing if in the next 10 years or so most of the worlds most fuel guzzling countrys became more indepent an as a greener nation an a lot happier an richer from the saving of greener energy.

:)


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Neeleshkulkarni - wow! That is so cool! I tell you what - when I'm ready to build I will buy land in India! You can be my water expert! Lol. I know there has to be some way this can be maintained comfortably but I would make sure first! Lol

Building a flat roof in a rainy area such as yours just seems silly! When you saw people doing that - were you already shaking your head? Also thatbwater cantnbe recycled atball I guess unless they catch it in buckets inside the home:)

Thanks so much - now I know I can work something out!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Barbara - I totally agree with you! We have created so much garbage in the world we are having trouble getting rid of all of it. These recycled homes are a huge effort to be kind to the environment. These homes are totally saving every bit of the environment they can. If we really do have issues with our entire electrical grid - those guys are prepared!

I truly hope you're right and we see lots of these kinds of homes built in the future:). Thanks so much for that great comment!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon

i've seen several houses like this., it's such a cool idea!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

PDXKaraokeGuy - They are far out:) I caught a show about them on the airplane and it made the flight go by pretty fast. I took a few notes too. lol Thanks a lot for the read and the comment!


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Wow, what's with the Drano ads?


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Lela - I said "toilet" hahahahahha!


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Interesting Kel, I am now feeling a little itchy, sticky and stinky, and I gotta pee. Thanks so much, ha!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Sharyn - I don't think you would like living in one of those houses:) lol Thank YOU so much!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

no problem!

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