Why an Earthship?

When I mention I want to build an Earthship, usually this question is one of the first to come out: Why an Earthship?

There are a lot of reasons for wanting a sustainable house and I could rattle of a list of ten or more without batting an eye.  However I was recently rewatching a TED talk by Bill McDonough from 2005 and at one part he was talking about trees and had this to say:

“Imagine this design assignment. Design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, accrues solar energy as fuel, makes complex sugars and food, creates micro climates, changes colours with the seasons and self replicates.”

Let’s take a look at that list.

Makes oxygen, sequesters carbon and fixes nitrogen: CHECK
Earthships have plants as an essential part of their function so you get all of those benefits.

Distills water: CHECK
Earthships capture water from the sky and then filters it for use. The plants also act as a grey water filter.

Accrues solar energy as a fuel: CHECK
Earthships make use of solar panels (and sometimes wind) to run the electrical systems of the house.

Makes complex sugars and food: CHECK
Along with being grey water filters, one of the main points of having the plants is to grow food.

Creates micro climates: CHECK
There has been more than one case where the exterior botanical cells of an Earthship have spawned dramatic floral abundance that has attracted more than one creature to stop by, if not take up residence. Many of these examples have occurred in the middle of the desert as well.

Changes colours with the seasons: Not automatically, so no check there.
You could paint your house a different colour every season, but that might be pushing it a bit.

Self-replicates: Again, no check here.

Still 7 of 9, that’s not a bad score. Add on to this little to no utility bills, freedom from the problems of being connected to a grid, internal handling of sewage and a home that takes care of of its occupants, rather than the occupants having to take care of the home.

Ding! We have a winner. When it comes down to it, Earthships just make a whole lot of sense. If none of the above reasons do it for you, then being able to grow your own bananas (I live in Canada, we don’t have native bananas) is totally worth it 🙂


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