What the heck is an earthship? : Travel to Taos, NM to the Global Earthship Community to find out. You’ll find the largest collection of off-grid housing grouped in one 640 acre community.
An Earthship is a type of house built with natural and recycled materials with energy conservation in mind. It is designed to produce water, electricity, and food for its own use. It is a completely off-grid house that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels for living.
The main features of an earthship are:
- Use of natural and recycled materials for construction
- Powered by Solar & Wind Energy
- Thermal Mass & Passive Solar Heating using soil
- Food Production (possible, with an added greenhouse)
- Water Collection/Recirculation of Rain & Snow Melt
The founder and creator of the Earthship concept is Michael Reynolds, who landed in Taos in 1969. His inspiration came from looming piles of garbage and pack of affordable housing. Over the next several decades, Reynolds turned trash into luxurious eco-homes by beginning to incorporate things like thermal mass, passive solar, and natural ventilation. Today’s earthships are built on a foundation of earth-rammed tires that require no foundation and provide heat and cool insulation. “Solar glazing” refers to the position of the exterior windows that allows the sun to heat the floors and walls without the use of fossil fuels or wood. Skylights provide natural ventilation to cool the home.
Earthship Community: Taos, NM
Since the 1970s, The Greater World Earthship Community in Taos, New Mexico has grown exponentially. The world’s only completely off-grid community is 640 acres platted for 130 homes. The homes are certainly unique: resembling something from Star Wars. The adobe houses are built low into the ground, and camouflaged into the terrain of Taos.
The big draw of this community is an attitude of self-reliance. One resident sums it up: “You are the power company, the water company, the sewage-treatment plant and the food production.”
The Eco-chic designs are certainly unique. Earthship design seems focused on sustainability, less emphasis on aesthetics.
You can experience Earthship living for yourself: through AirBnb and VRBO!
I stayed in Holli’s cute eco home over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a perfect off-grid getaway complete with fireplace, an extensive library, an old-school record player, and a scrabble board (a necessity). We used it as a jumping-off point for exploring the Taos Mountain Valley and the Rio Grande Gorge. It was cozy, unique, and a nice reset from the hustle-bustle of Denver. Interestingly, I never felt limited by the off-grid setup. The home stayed warm with the sun, the solar power was more than sufficient, and we made do with a gas cooktop (even on Thanksgiving!). Check availability for your next getaway!
Next trip, I found this dreeeeamy Earthship kitchen! You know me, I love a good kitchen. This is impressive for any home, let alone an Eco-Home. Find the Famous Taos Earthship on VRBO.
Not ready to stay in an Earthship, but still a little curious? Stop by the Visitor’s Center for a tour. If you’ve got some extra time in Taos, this is an interesting stop. It’s just past the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, worth the extra drive if you’re in the area.
Final Thoughts on Eco Living
I was so happy to learn and experience the possibilities of eco-living in an Earthship. It certainly opens my eyes to the stress that modern conveniences put on our available resources. While I’m not quite ready to fully commit, I think there are some lessons I can bring home. I’ll be more aware of water usage, leaving lights on around the house, and hopefully working towards less waste.
I’ll definitely be back to Taos, and it makes me feel good to have the Earthship Global Community as an option for a home-away-from-home as needed. Stay tuned for more Taos updates (hiking, skiing, and eating).
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