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Thirty years ago, American biotect (or 'garbage warrior') Michael Reynolds was looking for a way to live more greenly without sacrificing comfort and style. The result was Earthship Biotecture, a company that creates ecologically sustainable houses out of waste materials. Their ethos? To create buildings that 'heat and cool themselves naturally via solar/thermal dynamics; collect their own power from the sun and wind; harvest their own water from rain and snow melt; contain and treat their own sewage on site; produce food in significant quantities; utilize materials that are byproducts of modern society like cans, bottles and tires.' Their results? Far from the grungey mud huts you might expect…

Reynolds and his company believe that the Earthship is just like a human body, a product of the various systems that support it. Water is from natural sources and used four times; electricity is generated through a photovoltaic/wind power system, and is stored in batteries; household waste is processed in treatment cells then used in food production and landscaping; and the house maintains comfortable temperatures throughout the year. The actual structure of the house is created with old tires, and decorated in waste material such as old bottles.

Earthship Biotecture is based in Taos, New Mexico (which may explain the adobe-like architecture), but if you like what they are doing, you can buy your own house and have it sent to you. Earthships cost 25% of the price of a regular home and have practically no utility bills.

If you're not convinced, why not try one out for size? There are over 200 Earthships in and around the Greater World Community near Taos, and two are currently available to rent (from $125 per night). The Phoenix sleeps up to four, and Studio 1 sleeps up to two. If you'd like to know more about Michael Reynolds and his work, watch Garbage Warrior, a recent documentary about his unflinching pursuit of sustainability. RM

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