1) Sustainable does not mean primitive
When people hear about sustainable, off-the-grid living, they usually picture primitive homes divorced from the comforts of the 21st century. And rightfully so, as most sustainable solutions proposed until now have fit that description. Earthships, however, offer all of the comforts of modern homes and more. I’ll let these pictures do the talking…
2) Free Food
Each Earthship is outfitted with one or two greenhouses that grow crops year-round, no matter the climate. This means you can feed yourself with only the plants growing inside of your house. You can also choose to build a fish pond and/or chicken coop into your Earthship for a constant source of meat and eggs.
3) Brilliant Water Recycling
Even the most arid of climates can provide enough water for daily use through only a rain-harvesting system. The entire roof of the Earthship funnels rain water to a cistern, which then pumps it to sinks and showers when required. That used ‘grey water’ is then pumped into the greenhouse to water the plants. After being cleaned by the plants, the water is pumped up into the bathrooms for use in the toilets. After being flushed, the now ‘black water’ is pumped to the exterior garden to give nutrients to non-edible plants.
4) Warmth & Shelter
The most brilliant piece of engineering in the Earthship is their ability to sustain comfortable temperatures year round. Even in freezing cold or blistering hot climates, Earthships constantly hover around 70° Fahrenheight (22° Celsius).
This phenomenon results from the solar heat being absorbed and stored by ‘thermal mass’ — or tires filled with dirt, which make up the structure of the Earthship. The thermal mass acts as a heat sink, releasing or absorbing heat it when the interior cools and heats up, respectively.
The large greenhouse windows at the front of the house always face south to allow the sun to heat up the thermal mass throughout the daytime.
Solar panels on the roof and optional wind turbines provide the Earthship with all of the power it needs. As long as you’re not greedily chewing through electricity like a typical first-world human, you’ll never be short of power.
With all of your basic needs provided for and NO bills each month, you’re free! You don’t have to work a job you hate just to survive. So you can focus your time on doing what you love, and bettering the world around you.
Imagine if the entire world was able to focus on doing extraordinary things instead of just making enough to get by. Imagine if even 10% of the world could do this. What would change?
7) Easy to build
At a recent Earthship conference in Toronto, Canada, a married couple in their forties shared about how they built a 3-story Earthship by themselves in 3 months. They had never built anything before in their lives and were able to build an Earthship with only the printed plans. They did not hire any help, nor did they use expensive equipment to make the job easier.
If one man and one woman can do this in 3 months, anyone can do it.
Earthships are exorbitantly cheaper than conventional houses. The most basic Earthships cost as little as $7000 (The Simple Survival model) with the most glamorous models costing $70,000 and up, depending on how flashy you want to be with your decorating.
With these cost options, Earthships can fit the needs of everyone — from the least privileged to the most worldly.
9) Made of recycled materials
Much of the materials used to build Earthships are recycled. For starters, the structure is built with used tires filled with dirt:
The walls (above the tires) are created by placing plastic and glass bottles in concrete. When the Earthship team was in Haiti after the earthquake, they employed local kids to both clean up the streets and provide all of the bottles required for building their Earthship. Plus, they look pretty sexy.
10) Think Different
The most powerful thing Earthships do is force people to think differently about how we live. If housing can be this awesome, and be beneficial to the environment, then what else can we change? What else can become more simple, cheaper and better at the same time?
It’s time for us to re-think much of what we consider normal.
Article and image source: highexistence.com & earthship.com
|Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images|
Steve Holt | Take Part
If you watched the London Olympics last summer, you saw – every couple of minutes, it seemed – a parade of top athletes touting the nutritional qualities of their favorite eatery: Subway. Watching Apolo Ohno or Robert Griffin III bite into a veggie footlong with avocado or hearing that Subway is “the official training restaurant of athletes everywhere,” you might get the idea that the sandwich restaurant isn’t that bad for you – healthy, even.
Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles found that despite claims to the contrary, Subway is just as unhealthy as the oft-reviled golden arches of McDonald’s – which was surpassed in 2011 by the sandwich chain for most stores in America.
“Every day, millions of people eat at McDonald's and Subway, the two largest fast food chains in the world,” Dr. Lenard Lesser, who led the research while a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar in the department of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said in the UCLA statement. “With childhood obesity at record levels, we need to know the health impact of kids’ choices at restaurants.”
Lesser – who is now a researcher at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute – did so by recruiting 97 adolescents ages 12 to 21 to purchase meals at McDonald's and Subway restaurants at a shopping mall in Carson, CA. The young people consumed an average of 1,038 calories at McDonald’s. They consumed an average of 955 calories at Subway – a statistically insignificant difference from McDonald’s. The Institute of Medicine recommends that students consume no more than 850 calories in school lunches.
While total calories were slightly lower at Subway, the average calories per sandwich purchased and sodium content were both higher at Subway. The Subway sandwiches contained an average of 784 calories, versus 572 at McDonald's. The sodium content at both restaurants was three times higher than the IOM recommended daily dose: 2,149 mg at Subway versus 1,829 mg at McDonald's.
While the results may surprise the average consumer, they did not catch nutritionist Lisa R. Young off guard. At fast food restaurants commonly thought to be healthier, Young says customers may even eat worse than they would at a chain thought to be less healthy – a phenomenon known as the “health halo.” Because diners assume they’re eating healthier overall, they may not pay close enough attention to the nutritional content of what they’re ordering. And at the end of the day, Subway and McDonald’s are still fast food.
“I do not recommend fast food if you want to eat healthy,” says Young, author of The Portion Teller’s Diet. “With a few exceptions, fast food is still fast food — high in fat and calories.”
Does it surprise you that Subway is just as unhealthy as McDonald's?
|Image Courtesy of Friends of the Beacon Food Forest.|
Ben Schiller | fastcoexist.com
There’s free food everywhere, if you know where to look. Falling Fruit, which maps publicly available produce in several countries, lists 554 edible varieties (mostly plants) in 570,000 locations. It’s mostly stuff that currently goes to waste, like fruit that drops into streets, only to get mashed into concrete.
Most of the locations on Falling Fruit’s map are single trees (including some on private property, where asking the owner is advised) or small community spaces. But foraging is gaining scale all the time. Several places are planting dedicated forests for public use.
Look at Seattle’s embryonic Beacon Food Forest. Set to become the nation’s largest forageable space, it will cover seven acres within city limits, offering everything from plum, apple, and walnut trees, to berry bushes, herbs and vegetables. The goal is to recreate the ecosystem of a real forest with food-bearing varieties at different heights.
The community group behind the project has planted about 35 trees so far, and also completed a lot of landscaping and irrigation work, according to Glenn Herlihy, one of the creators. He expects the space to open later this summer, and to start producing food next year, beginning with herbs, vegetables, and annuals.
The forest will include a teaching space, conventional community gardening plots, a barbecue spot, and recreational areas. Since it’s a community project, it has to cater to many groups.
Herlihy hopes visitors will practice "ethical harvesting"--taking what they need, or what they can eat right away. But for those feeling greedy, there will be a "thieves garden" containing lower-grade stuff. "We also plan to have a lot of people around, so you’re not going to feel comfortable taking a lot of stuff," he adds.
Beacon is using land donated by Seattle Public Utilities, and has a $100,000 grant from the city. Herlihy says the forest could eventually produce "quite a bit of food," and he hopes it will be a place where the community can come together.
"People are learning where they can find food about the place," he says, referring to foraging in general. "That’s a good thing. Better that than it going to waste."
Falling Fruit’s founders, Caleb Phillips and Ethan Welty, see foraging as more than just another source of food. "Foraging in the 21st century is an opportunity for urban exploration, to fight the scourge of stained sidewalks, and to reconnect with the botanical origins of food," they say, at their website.