earthship home

My brain has been buzzing with ‘How did Solarpunk come to be?'  I think it started in two ways, with the people who had loads of money and the people who had none.

The poor started to live in a more sustainable way because it’s cheaper. They insulated their homes, used passive energy practices and collected solar energy because the power company was extortionate, collected rain-water and used grey-water because the city water was metered and the utility company was charging for every drop, they grew food because produce at the supermarket was unaffordable. Recycling, re-purposing, re-using are all cheaper then buying brand new. An earthship home can be built using trash which they can get for free and build themselves with the help of friends and family. Getting together with your neighbors and helping each other means you can save on childcare, medical care (community clinics and home remedies), education (workshops, sharing knowledge and informal apprenticeships), you can swap good and services instead of paying for them. It’s a much cheaper way of living, but doing it all low-tech and on a shoestring means that there’s a lot of drudgery involved and while they have become more resource rich they have become time-poor.

The rich started to live in a more sustainable way because they could just hand over the cash and then feel good about themselves. There’s exciting, cutting edge, sustainable tech being created but it’s beyond the price range of the poor and even the middle class. The rich start living in sustainable, multi-use, skyscrapers with aquaponic farms and sky gardens. They fill their homes with furniture hand crafted from plantation timber (carbon credits, to offset the mileage of import, built into the price), lovely antiques (hey that’s re-using) and brand new items made with 90% recycled materials. They fork over more and more money to the people inventing, producing and maintaining sustainable tech. The oil barons fall and sustainability tzars rise. But they’re disconnected from their tech, they didn’t make it, so when things break down they either have to pay ever greater amounts to the tzars to fix it or they have to replace it which isn’t really sustainable at all. And they’re disconnected from each other, not needing to go out because their homes produce everything they need and social media brings the world to them.

This is where the two classes look to each other. The poor see that some of that tech could reduce their drudgery and give them leisure time. The rich see that the poor are inventive, resourceful and can find ways to repair or work around anything; they have close-knit communities who share and problem-solve to make everyone’s lives better. So trade begins, tech for ideas. It starts with just the rich hiring the poor to fix thing but it grows into so much more. The rich give the poor the means to free up their time and the poor teach the rich how to live closer to their resources and get their hand dirty. This mixing is especially popular with the young. Young people have always loved new ideas and breaking social barriers, and they lead the charge in the merging of these two societies. They share music and art and fashion. They look to the past for inspiration and re-invent Art Nouveau - it starts as a fad but is soon embraced by everyone. Community forms, with different groups coming together to solve problems and share ideas. As the young people become adults there is intermarriage and children are born who grow up in both worlds. Then the next generation is born into a world where the divide has all but disappeared, the two societies have merged to a point where you can only see the echoes of how they started.

A vibrant culture of people who live everyday with extremely high tech but who still get their hands in the dirt is realized.

Congratulations on the recent construction of your Earthship in Huntington, Vermont. In light of growing threats posed by man-made climate change, your decision to create a home that is nearly one hundred percent sustainable is truly admirable. By using natural, everyday materials you are creating a habitat that works in unison with the environment, rather than against it. Instead of leaving old tires, bottles and cans to lie in waste, your home puts them to valuable use. The nation is in serious need of more forward thinking individuals such as you. Again, congratulations on your Earthship. I hope you enjoy living in your new home and continue to be a shining example of how people can live more sustainably. Sincerely, Bernard (Bernie) Sanders, United States Senator

The Numerous Benefits of Earthships

At the New School Auditorium on November 1st, 2014, Michael Reynolds, the founder and creator of EarthShips, gave a full-day lecture on the foundational principles of EarthShip Biotecture, which is self-described as radically sustainable buildings.

He went through the infrastructure, systems and impact that make up an EarthShip including construction methods and materials, heating and cooling systems, water harvesting and reuse system, sewage system, food growing system, and energy system.

An EarthShip costs the same as a conventional well built home, which is about $225/SF. However, it only has a $150/yr utility bill. This low utility bill comes from the building’s ability to act as a mini-ecosystem harvesting all renewable, on-site, natural phenomenon for its energy, water, heating and cooling, hence the EarthShip’s being called “Biotecture.” Not only does the EarthShip provide an extremely low impact on resource use for utilities, it also uses primarily recycled materials and dirt for its construction. This causes the carbon-footprint of the building itself to be remarkably low as it requires very little newly made materials that require mining, processing and transport before it gets to the job-site.

EarthShips are located all over the world through a standard model of the building. This standard shape comes from the building being thought of as a machine—the shape of the building itself allows its ecological processes to function.

A more adventurous building is one that’s proposed within New York City’s Lower East Side. It consists of a tall platform with an EarthShip atop it, reachable via a street-side elevator.

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