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Natural building and earthships ?

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Natural Building Everywhere - Ecobilda·Thursday, January 10, 2019

Recently launching Ecobilda.org, a platform for all natural building workshops, courses, opportunities and for the community (see dedicated article “Thriving to bring all natural builders together through new web tools”), I was quickly kicked out of a popular natural building Facebook group for the mere reason that Ecobilda supports earthships, which is not considered by the group administrator as natural building. I thought this ban was rather bold and radical, given we all strive to make the world a better place. But that got me thinking.. and I would clearly like your thoughts on this.

Earthships part or apart from natural building?
We can’t deny that earthships are mostly made out of ... trash which is also no less than recycled materials. Their construction involves a hell lot of cans, tires and glass bottles just to name a few. And it’s also got a lot of concrete. However, we could argue that the tires are filled with earth, that the structure is usually made out of wood, and that the interior walls are also usually plastered with earth and lime, which undeniably brings some natural elements to it. Yet, most of it is not and could indeed not be categorized as “natural”. Now does having some recycled and traditional material make earthships completely out of the natural building arena? I don’t think of it as being completely incompatible. I think there is much more to earthships than just a pile of trash put together. Its core idea is to design the habitat matter as a whole, considering its entire cycles of resources: water, heat, electricity etc. and its overall efficiency. An earthship is designed like a spaceship on earth, hence the name, in that it is self-sufficient and optimizes everything about its energy and resources consumption. Now, when we compare this to a traditional house, it is to my opinion a no-brainer: Earthships have pushed a step further the search for sustainability in terms of energy efficiency.

The energy system of a "conventional" earthship
It seems obvious to me that earthships are like the 2.0 version of conventional houses (if not 3.0). Of course, I would personally rather live in a natural house than in an earthship, but I would also clearly prefer living in an earthship rather than in a conventional house. The ideal being of course the combination of the two systems: natural materials and energy efficiency, which of course is not impossible (there might be room for a new name for this?!).

So in conclusion, I surely don’t think that earthships are natural as in houses made out of straw, earth, and wood. Nonetheless, I appreciate the value earthships bring to the housing options, bringing us one step closer to a more efficient use of the earth’s resources and to living more free lives.
What’s your thoughts on this? Feel free to drop a line to add spices to this “dish of mine”.

Cheers,
Mathias