Alternative lifestyles and behavior can be influenced by one’s willingness to give back to the earth via environmentalism, or just to save a buck and fight the idealism of a capitalist society.
Such lifestyle decisions fuel the green movement and the market of everything from hybrid cars to self composting toilets. One way to save thousands of dollars and to live without the guilt of Gaia is to construct a house using alternative materials besides precious wood, polluting vinyls and foam insulation.
Some of these alternative housing methods are extremely useful to the earth, as everyday trash can be used to build an entire house, or a natural material can be used, and then recycled when the house is ready to be torn down.
The chic cardboard house is no longer the domain of hobo’s and bums, but is now being called the Home of the Future. The idea of the cardboard home was to get away from technology and create a home with the most simplistic ideas. Cardboard is 100 percent recyclable. The first luxury cardboard home is being worked on in Australia.
Some people may think it is a crazy idea because there is no other place where cardboard is used to build a home. All of the materials that will be used in the home will be recycled. Of course there will still be reinforced walls and some insulation. The only great part about a cardboard home is that it is recyclable and the toilet is a composting system that only produces a nutrient rich water that is used for gardening.
According to the website housesofthefuture.com.au, this house is 85 percent recycled materials are used. By creating a home form cardboard it will save 12 cubic meters of landfill, 39 tress and over 30,000 liters of water. There is only a 12 volt battery or a small photovoltaic cell for a power generator. Which will cut on energy bills and save conserve energy.
Car Tire Homes
In New Mexico there is an architect named Mike Reynolds has a specialty when he designs homes. He uses the super efficient mix of rubber tires, dirt and aluminum cans. A rubber tire home is solar powered which has a fireplace as a back up heating system. The walls are three feet thick all made of tires with rammed earth which acts a natural insulation.
Reynolds will use over 1,000 tires and each tire used 1 wheelbarrow of earth. Once the home is complete he will sell it for $ 55,000. The home is 1,025 square feet and it is in a circular shape. The spaces that were left by the tires were filled in with bottles and cans for a decorative effect he says. The home has 2 very large solar panels that give off a greenhouse space and home owners can grow their own gardens there as well.
Beer Can House
That’s right, did you know that not only do empty cans of beer make excellent pyramids or towers at frat parties, but you can also build a house out of them! In Houston, Texas the beer can house of John Milkovisch is a standing testament to the art of drunken creativity.
After his retirement, the late Milkovisch decided to replace the aluminium siding on his home with crushed beer cans. But after downing an average of a six pack per day, John went beyond the siding and began devoling walls, curtains, roofing and fencing. 18 years and 39,000 beers later, the beer can house was finished.
Aluminum Can House
Ron Gobel, an artist in Taos, is building a different type of Aluminum Can House. The house will be constructed of two layers of cans and the cans will be enclosed with fiberglass insulation . There will be over 125,000 containers being used on this home.
The containers are being filled with water and after filling all these containers, Reynolds went to the brewery and bought water filled cans. The cans must be filled otherwise they have no thermal mass. You may be asking your self about heating. The heat storage will be from 4 inch thick steel tanks that will work in conjunction with a huge set of solar panels.
Building a Home From Mud & Weeds
Another strange building material for a home is Mud. Mud homes are built in places like Africa and India were there are not big cities. But mud homes are coming to the United Kingdom very soon. The plans are that bungalows will be built and the roofs and then 3 of the 4 walls will be built with at least a 2 foot layer of mud and earth. The benefit of doing this is that it will cut heating bills and conserve energy.
You may think that mud will just be spattered and it will smell. But contractors plan on decorating the home with flowers and shrubs on the outside of the home of course.
The design is expected to have ceiling to floor and south facing windows which will give the home a great amount of light and it will also allow the home to absorb the heat. The plan is to let the sun do a lot of the heating to the home. There will also be a secondary heating system installed because the sun is not as strong in the winter as it is in the summer.
No, this house is not built from used condoms, but like the tire home mentioned above, industrial strength black rubber is an energy conserving material which keeps homes in cold climates extremely warm by harnessing the power of sunlight and lowering dependency on heating oil.
Stephen Lawrence of Kent, England has built an award winning and stylish home out of black rubber. On this home there is a shed attached to the home, the walls are made from plywood and are insulated to heating and cooling off. They have installed energy efficient windows and the home is solar powered. There is a secondary heating system for the winter but the owners say they do not use much of it.
You don’t think of rubber as a great material for a home but while it is recyclable it does have it’s benefits for heat and energy conservation which helps the environment and it helps the home owner conserve both energy and money.
One way to give back to the environment is to build your home from logs.
Just like the old days, you can live in a log cabin in the year 2007. Of course the log cabins of today are not the same as they were hundreds of years ago. When you build a log cabin, they can be as elegant as you want. The log cabins of today are not as rustic as they once were and you don’t even have to build a log cabin home in the middle of the woods anymore.
Have you ever seen a home besides in the movies that was made from all glass? There is one house in New Canaan, Connecticut made from all glass. Besides the obvious privacy issues, this style of home and benefits and non benefits.
Glass is 100 percent recyclable which is great for the environment. It will conserve energy as well. The way these homes are constructed there would have to be a secondary heating system because in the winter there would not enough heat. The glass would have to be double paned glass and insulated glass as well, because there is no place for insulation.
A Glass home would be perfect in the summer but I’m not so sure about it being a winter home due to loss of heating, unless it was multi-ply glass. Maybe that is why there are not too many of these homes in the real world.
There is another glass home in Ashland, Kentucky. What makes this home different then the other glass home is that this home is also a tree house. This house is modern yet rustic. It has glass surrounding the home, not full paned ceiling to floor glass but a good size amount.
The house is shapes in a rounded form, it is unlike any other house on the market today. In the kitchen area there is an actual tree that is surrounded by red bricks and plants. By looking at the house which sits behind a gate, it looks normal.
From the back of the home, it sits on a hillside but it is there that the house looks rounded. Other amenities included in this home is that you have a private wooded area with great views. It has a moss garden , a Gazebo and a goldfish pond. In the bathroom it actually has a Japanese soaking rounded tub.
Straw & Cob Homes
Other types of home is a home made from straw bales and adobe cob. This style of home will keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There is a stone fireplace in the main room for heating, but you can add a secondary heating system if you choose. The beams and posts are filled with bales straw on edge and will be used as a fill in. The floor plans call for adobe cob floors which will the thermal mass of the home.
The straw will be inside the walls acting as insulation so you don’t see it. The straw will be kept dry so you don’t have that strange smell when it rains. The straw is a great insulator and a perfect choice to help with a green home. By using the straw it will cut down on the energy bills. The fire place will cut down on electric. These homes can be solar powered for extra savings.
You may have heard of the word cob before but you may only associate it with corn. But cob is a material that is made from clay, sand and straw, made the material very environmentally friendly. You can use cob for any season and wit will do what it should for each. In the summer it will keep the home cool, in the winter it will keep your home warm. It worked back in the day where cob was extremely popular because of the strong materials, because people in yesteryear did not think of the environment at all.
So, Do We All Have to Live in Mud Houses?
With the world’s energy resources being used up faster then ever and thereby creating the Global Warming effect. We as human beings should do more than we are doing to help save the environment.
We are not saying everyone should live in a mud home but by using less energy, recycling and getting your car inspected can help a tremendous amount.
More people are becoming environmentally conscious and some look to create a home made from logs, mud, straw, rubber, rubber tires, aluminum cans and cob.
The world would be a better place if more people did this but it is not plausible or logical to think that it may ever happen but as long as we do what we can, we know we are making a difference.
Know of any more forms of alternative house building? Please be sure to leave your ideas and opinions in the comments below.