Earthships are 100% sustainable homes that are both cheap to build and awesome to live in. They offer amenities like no other sustainable building style you have come across. For the reasons that follow, I believe Earthships can actually change the world. See for yourself!
1) Sustainable does not mean primitive
When people hear about sustainable, off-the-grid living, they usually picture primitive homes divorced from the comforts of the 21st century. And rightfully so, as most sustainable solutions proposed until now have fit that description. Earthships, however, offer all of the comforts of modern homes and more. I’ll let these pictures do the talking…
2) Free Food
Each Earthship is outfitted with one or two greenhouses that grow crops year-round, no matter the climate. This means you can feed yourself with only the plants growing inside of your house. You can also choose to build a fish pond and/or chicken coop into your Earthship for a constant source of meat and eggs.
3) Brilliant Water Recycling
Even the most arid of climates can provide enough water for daily use through only a rain-harvesting system. The entire roof of the Earthship funnels rain water to a cistern, which then pumps it to sinks and showers when required. That used ‘grey water’ is then pumped into the greenhouse to water the plants. After being cleaned by the plants, the water is pumped up into the bathrooms for use in the toilets. After being flushed, the now ‘black water’ is pumped to the exterior garden to give nutrients to non-edible plants.
4) Warmth & Shelter
The most brilliant piece of engineering in the Earthship is their ability to sustain comfortable temperatures year round. Even in freezing cold or blistering hot climates, Earthships constantly hover around 70° Fahrenheight (22° Celsius).
This phenomenon results from the solar heat being absorbed and stored by ‘thermal mass’ — or tires filled with dirt, which make up the structure of the Earthship. The thermal mass acts as a heat sink, releasing or absorbing heat it when the interior cools and heats up, respectively.
The large greenhouse windows at the front of the house always face south to allow the sun to heat up the thermal mass throughout the daytime.
Solar panels on the roof and optional wind turbines provide the Earthship with all of the power it needs. As long as you’re not greedily chewing through electricity like a typical first-world human, you’ll never be short of power.
With all of your basic needs provided for and NO bills each month, you’re free! You don’t have to work a job you hate just to survive. So you can focus your time on doing what you love, and bettering the world around you.
Imagine if the entire world was able to focus on doing extraordinary things instead of just making enough to get by. Imagine if even 10% of the world could do this. What would change?
7) Easy to build
At a recent Earthship conference in Toronto, Canada, a married couple in their forties shared about how they built a 3-story Earthship by themselves in 3 months. They had never built anything before in their lives and were able to build an Earthship with only the printed plans. They did not hire any help, nor did they use expensive equipment to make the job easier.
If one man and one woman can do this in 3 months, anyone can do it.
Earthships are exorbitantly cheaper than conventional houses. The most basic Earthships cost as little as $7000 (The Simple Survival model) with the most glamorous models costing $70,000 and up, depending on how flashy you want to be with your decorating.
With these cost options, Earthships can fit the needs of everyone — from the least privileged to the most worldly.
9) Made of recycled materials
Much of the materials used to build Earthships are recycled. For starters, the structure is built with used tires filled with dirt:
If there’s one thing we’re not short of on Earth, it’s used tires! There are tire dumps like the one pictured here in every country in the world. There are even places that will pay you by the tire to take them away.
The walls (above the tires) are created by placing plastic and glass bottles in concrete. When the Earthship team was in Haiti after the earthquake, they employed local kids to both clean up the streets and provide all of the bottles required for building their Earthship. Plus, they look pretty sexy.
10) Think Different
The most powerful thing Earthships do is force people to think differently about how we live. If housing can be this awesome, and be beneficial to the environment, then what else can we change? What else can become more simple, cheaper and better at the same time?
It’s time for us to re-think much of what we consider normal.
Want to build your own Earthship? We did and we made an ebook and DVD to help you replicate it!
56 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome”
Is there anywhere to get plans, maybe something to base an original design on? Would they be free, the plans I mean.
Hi from Ecclesiastes Project (www.facebook.com/EcclesiastesProject)- we’re building an earthship in Vermont. The easiest way to get plans is through Mike Reynolds’ books, available at Amazon or elsewhere I suppose; those books are designed to enable anyone to build one from scratch. The original books are kind of old and the techniques have developed since then; last year they were talking about releasing an update real soon, so that may or may not have been done yet. Hope that helps!
Nice article. I’m all for that. Was wondering where you got the price of $7,000 for the survival earthship? I’ve been trying to find info on prices, but every page I check has such radically different prices. Another site said the Survival Model costs $50,000 to $100,000.
When we attended the Toronto Earthship Conference – we were told by Michael Reynolds that at one point they were able to build a simple survival model one for 7000$ :)
An earthship may be built for as low as $7000, but once built, it can have a resale value up to $50,000 and up.
Where can I find building plans? It appears there are multiple sources that are selling plans for over $5,000.
not sure they have plans for an earthship, but video explain much here: http://offthegridbuild.com/. plans available from http://earthship.com/construction-drawings . for cheapest versions look at survival model.
The BEST PLANS I’ve seen are basically FREE! The very idea of capitalism/profiteers in this are disgusting and counter-intuitive to me. Just stating my opinion here. THANKS! ;-) PEACE!
Hey Rabbit – This is the post that i found you guys through. I was really digging into this earthship concept. My dad is an architect/ingineer and i would love to build one of these back home (Costa Rica) with him :)
Moreover, i was captivated by your little “discription” – when i read this i said to myself; I need to meet this guy. Its like our minds are connected!
Lets stay in touch and cordinate for a vist soon. I would truly enjoy to see your headquarters. If you have some extra time check out my site – you might find some inspirational material http://www.studentsoflife.com/
These Earthships look amazing! How can I build one of these?! Can I get plans? :D
Wow, this is fantastic! I’m going to look more into this… we need more Earthships here in the UK!
UK’s climate is not the targeted climate unless you are high in the mountain. I would advise a 3 large exterior walls frame in big log and to be filled with strawbale and mud and door and windows. The northern wall and at least two inner wall should be made of tires. The southern wall should be mostly windows. The insulation of the classic earthship should be improved for the UK. I advise you to put hard insulation outside the tire walls. I thouth of adding a tick layer of strawbales around the northern side for the canadian winter. Strawbales are fragile to water so you better drain well the roof and extend a lot it’s reach. I would try to place a green roof also cause we need to support a lot of weight from snow and a very good insulation.
Using tires for building is a way to reuse what’s in a lanfill versus cutting down trees.
I live in Montreal and would love to volunteer my time for this project (email me at rasmus.foyer (at) gmail.com). I am also set on building an earth-ship and would love to be involved in building others until the day I can build my own. I would strongly recommend http://www.undergroundhousing.com/ and the book Mike Oehler wrote! Really inspiring.
I’ll come visit soon!
Earthships seem great! The only thing I have against them is that their designs should be open source by now…. Learn from Open Source Ecology! :)
Agreed. Though I don’t see any problem with Michael charging for consultation, and if people want help in building then they should pay. But the DIY designs should be open source. If they were, poor people like me would have a better chance at doing this, and then more people could hear about them and try it themselves. The cost is the single biggest limiting factor.
It’s really quite easy to design and build one yourself. If you know anyone with basic engineering knowledge (a friend who works in the construction field, for instance), I imagine that they would be willing to help. Since there is no code for them because they are not connected to any public system, you can do pretty much anything you want. a single story with a strong ceiling would be as simple as knowing how big you want it, drawing lines where you want your walls and doors. Just put a solid roof on and you’re all set.
The wall design and technique are clearly shown in youtube’s videos. I researched earthship and other natural building for quite a while and they are mostly easy to build. The roof is the tricky part, because the two thin layers of concrete dôme are hard to mold and design by yourself. I agree with Kenny get help from professional for the roof or at least build acording to carpentry guide. If there is not a big gap of temperature between day and night in your climate you may not need huge tire walls, you could build 3 exterior walls frame in big log and fill with strawbale and mud. The southern wall should be mostly windows.
The plans could be free and maybe the designers will receive donation but I’m not certain they would make more money this way.
Oh no way. You guys actually did this. I have been literally dreaming about something exactly like this. Now to build my real home like this, and multiple vacation homes ;)
Also Rabbit, whoever you are, loving the way you presented this, and from your little personal blurb you seem like the radist man.
This is a great website and I’m already a fan of your work! Earthship’s are interesting, but there are a few “modern” idea’s that would work well if integrated into the processes.
One might be the addition of Rocket Mass Heaters instead of conventional fireplace or stove layouts.
Another might be employing a foam/concrete blend that adds a certain flexibility and resilience to the final build. This also has the effect of reducing the overall weight during the build process and improving the efficiency of the thermal mass heating effects.
Glad to hear the Kickstarter project is a go! This website is great, motivational and informative.
if built right, no heater needed at all. where would foam/concrete blend be used? how does it add flexibility and resilience? Foam actually reduces mass, it’s basically insulation (the opposite of mass). Mass sucks in heat and releases it. insulation doesn’t allow heat transfer. This site just hits highlights of earthships, doesn’t really explain how everything works. Very extensive video log of almost complete earthship build is located here: http://offthegridbuild.com/ and earthship.com has many details, although, the site is hard to quickly obtain much knowledge. ofc, if you want to pay you can get books with all the details or consult for earthship.com for more current and customized info (for a fee)
Burning wood is again not good for the environment.
Thinking out of a community set box. I love it, and I’ll sure to build one, just to see in which country that would be..Spreading this all over the internet! ^ ^ Namaste
Most wonderful, i am preparing similar earthship initiatives and spreading of the idea in Switzerland and Germany!
Where do you live? I have the same idea! I live in Basel..
Sounds fantastic. Would love to connect. Working on this as well. Out of Zurich. Email me at [email protected].
How do you overcome the smell of tires what they are use for the back berm?
they’re covered in an earth plaster, you never touch or smell them.
This is so beautiful, so doable!
What a wonderful concept – thank you for sharing it!! Where can I find out more??
http://earthship.com/construction-drawings also check out http://offthegridbuild.com/
My main worry is having enough power to run a grow room.
Just go outside with it man.
one thing i do know there are crap loads of tires hell i probably have changed a lot of them, we go have a guy that picks them up for recycling proposes, if something starts up closer to toronto please let me know., the wife is great with kids, was a educational assistant, been off work for some time due to stroke but i know she is willing to teach again. all that will be needed is the government to go **** off with their land taxes
Hey we have a campaign to build one of these and we are looking for backers or a team to help us succeed.Donations are well received here is the link:- http://igg.me/at/EARTHSHIP/x/3995136
I love Earthships. I’ve known about them for about nine months and have been obsessed with building one since then. But I have a question for you, as you seem to know much more about them. If you live in a climate that receives a fair amount of rainfall, would it be possible to bury the roof (hobbit style) and have a smaller drain for the cistern? I love everything about Earthships except roof design, but I’d hope that with enough rainfall, you wouldn’t need the entire surface to collect water. I want to build a home that is mostly invisible against the landscape. Here is my inspiration: http://youtu.be/E-O2ggn29fI (skip to the end to see the final design).
The earthship is cool however it is not suitable everywhere, nor is it a green building in the way MR builds them, concrete is one of the most pollutant substances in modern building. More info on why, what and how : http://izreal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Sinking-the-Earthship-Concept-Once-and-For-All.pdf
What is the roof made of?? I ask because my husband is Mexican and we have been building a house in his home town…they mostly use bricks to build the house then the roof is a flat cement roof so if you decide to add a 2nd floor later it is easy…plus it is because they need a flat surface for the tinaco (a large plastic container for water) that supplies the water for toilets and showers in houses with gravity pulled water…such as in the rural areas where we live. I just wondered if the the tires are strong enough to withhold a roof that strong…or if the roof used could handle the weight of multiple levels and / or large amounts of water on top? If so…maybe it could be an option for some people there…my father in law is a home builder and maybe if there were other less expensive building options…maybe he could have more work.
This is a really good concept, well more than a concept since they are functioning structures off the grid. With house like this and maybe a part time job you could do pretty well or maybe do something from home for even more independence. Once housing and food is sorted out there is a number of directions one could go…
Love this. Would like to have one of these myself. I am currently living in England. Where are you. America? I’d really like to look into this, as it has been my dream for years.
I’m doing a speech on this and a lot of the people were worried about the economy failing. We need to find a way to show people that being green will not hurt the economy due to taxation on more than just housing and bills.
FYI your bio says “who’s passionate changing the world”… Should be “passionate *about* changing…”. Will look more professional when you change it.
He never said he was passionate about grammar.
I am looking to start a project providing affordable sustainable homes for the poor. I would like to get more information in regards to some of the lower end ($7,000) models and even see one in person. If anyone knows the best way to get information on this and if there is a lower end model earthship located in the South East United States, the info would be greatly appreciated.
The Problem is not the expertise in Building them. But its the County Building Depts denying a permit. There is a s***load of energy saving and cost reduction features in these buildings that make them unfriendly to the Property Tax based economy as well as their operating costs. The Building inspection and code trade is infested with special Interest groups which have dragged people to Courts in New Mexico, even for Earthship homes which are so remote from townships.