Michael Reynolds and Gang take reuse to the nth
Ok, so this may be old hat to many of you-- but to some of you, this may come as one more inspiring evidence of our evolution, and people turning a negative into a positive! So lets go. No doubt you're aware that there are around 4 billion used tires in North American Dumps, we throw out close to 300 million a year, and Europe isn't that far behind. From the micro swamp breeding grounds for west nile and (increasingly) malaria, to the horrendous tire fires, this is a huge problem that won't go away on its own. But here's Michael Reynolds to show us how problems are sometimes solutions in waiting....
Michael Reynolds is the inventor of the EarthShip, like a spaceship, a place that treats your waste, makes your food, controls and creates electricity, and is basically your home away from home-- except that instead of it being out there, it's right here on Earth. And EarthShips do this with sometimes simple principles that use no electricity at all ...oh, and to make one you need thousands of used tires and used tin cans (you even get paid to take away the tires)!
and no matter when it is, in the middle of winter covered under fresh snow, or the doggiest day of july when you can fry a rock outside on an egg, it doesn't have air-conditioning or heating but it stays a comfortable 70 degrees, all the time!
So Michael Reynolds started to figure this out back in the 70's and (again) kept at it, non-stop. He and his amazing Earthship Biotechture group have written several books that are great DIY step-by-steps you can get, and build your own, as well they've produced a number of videos, and even have kits of how to work with town councils who are not, let's say, with it when it comes to sustainable buildings. Not only are they made from recycled materials, but the way they're designed, you can grow fresh vegetables year-round no matter what it's like outside.
Now before I even get into the tires again, I want to dispel some myths here, some people building EarthShips have placed a barrier between the tires and the adobe finishing to further prevent offgassing, but even without that, I seriously doubt that there is a very large amount of offgassing because of the "pounding" i'm about to mention. Lastly, If you are seriously concerned about offgassing, find a few plants that like those particular tire offgass and let those thrive somewhere in your home...
OK, those tires. See, what they do is get about 4-5,000 tires and make the walls out of them. Each tire gets filled (with sand, earth..) by one person, while another person uses a sledgehammer to pound the earth into the tire. A tire can hold about 4 wheelbarrows of earth this way, and they're puffy and huge. One by one the tires get filled, and eventually form these nice thick walls. The tin cans are used to make thinner walls, and rounded shapes, the cans get laid in concrete and create a matrix that can be curved, domed, anything you can imagine. When the entire building is raised, it gets slathered with an adobe finish.
SO the tires actually form a "thermal mass" that sucks heat in in the summers and put heat out in the wintertime. The glass wall is the south wall and the inside south wall is the growing wall. The way they're built, they catch and filter rainwater, but they also reuse all the grey water. So water used for dishes clothes and showers goes right to the planters. In the middle of a snowy winter you'll be harvesting grapes and bananas. Fresh. Year round!
Right now there are Earthships all over the world. The greatest concentration of them is in Taos New Mexico where the Biotechture people live. And who are the Biotechture people? Well, it may have started with Reynolds, but there are now several interested parties. And when i say party.... There are three main citys of earthships, or counties? They are the Greater World Earthship Community (633 acres), STAR (Social Transformation Alternative Republic 650 acres) and REACH (Rural Earthship Alternative Community Habitat -- an "extreme earthship community, 55 acres). Each of these is full of young healthy idealistic kids and retirees, a wide range and diversity (but lots of tattoos).. at night there are jams powered by solar panels (which are everywhere). I meant what I said when I said party.
So check 'em out-- if you live really far away there's the videos and books, if you live closer, you can rent an earthship for a week, a month... and see for yourself how peaceful and serene they are... either way you'll want to check out their site for sure (hey they even have an earthship for sale page