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Sustainable Living

Friday, April 22nd, 2022 | BLOG | No Comments



Since the 1970s, Taos, New Mexico, has been a playground for creative off-grid builders. Today, it is slowly becoming overwhelmed by a wave of pandemic-era emigres who eschewed big coastal cities for a more rural idyl.

It only takes about 15 minutes to drive from the center of Taos to feel a world away from urbanity. Centuries ago, the Taos Pueblo Indigenous people who lived in this area used deep red adobe brick to build naturally insulated earthen homes. Today these brick homesteads make up one of the United States’ oldest inhabited communities. Since then, the area’s new denizens have started to experiment with a sustainable, passive architecture all of their own: Earthships. Made of dirt, tires, and other recycled and reclaimed materials, Earthships have evolved in styles over the decades. You can find everything from unremarkable, solar-powered single-family homes to a castle turret to a pyramid as if Las Vegas had been rebuilt in a recycling facility.


The ideal modern Earthship is built with natural and recycled materials like wine bottles and soda cans. It uses thermal and solar heating and cooling, along with solar power, to regulate its internal temperature without connecting to a conventional utility grid. Earthships are built to harvest rainwater, have contained sewage systems, and feature gardens that provide a buffer between the living area and the outdoors and act as mini larders. The gardens provide food as well as work to purify the air. Earthships generally consist of a wall made of pounded tires that wraps around three sides of the structure, providing a cocoon of thermal mass that stays warm in winter and cool in summer.

Homes like these Earthships are not a new concept. In fact, for the last five decades, they have been a popular home of choice among extreme sustainability enthusiasts and survivalists. People have built Earthship-like homes in every U.S. state and dozens of countries, but they truly thrive in Taos. The ongoing climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic have given these seeming safe havens fresh appeal. Today, they are attractive climate and social breakdown bunkers.


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