Are Earthships 'Healthy' Homes?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by sweet pea, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. sweet pea

    sweet pea New Member

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    Hi everyone!
    I've been doing some research on owner-built homes, wanting to do one of my own, and am wondering if someone has expertise to share on this topic. I absolutely love and support the idea of earthships as sustainable, environmentally-sound ways to build. But I'm wondering...has there ever been any research/other info out there on whether or not these homes are 'healthy' homes? As in, aluminum cans are obviously made with aluminum (a substance I don't want on or in my body)...chemicals in tires that maybe I don't want to be breathing in? Or maybe this isn't even something I should consider as an issue??? :confused:
     
  2. KindredCanuck

    KindredCanuck In Remembrance

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  3. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    The 'danger' of aluminum is mostly myth. There was one study done decades ago that found slightly elevated levels of aluminum in the brains of some alzheimers patients. It was a pretty small sample and no one has been able to duplicate the results. Cathedrals of fear have been built on this with very little cause.

    Aluminum is one of the most common elements in the Earth, although it is usually not feasible to extract it profitably. It's already everywhere.

    They use ground-up tires as mulch for childrens playgrounds at public schools. If there was any danger from this then the lawsuits would have started flying years ago.

    The cans and the tires are both sealed into the walls in the course of rammed-earth tire construction. There's no way that they can hurt you even if there was some kind of off-gassing to worry about in an enclosed space.

    Bear in mind that this type of construction is not a whole lot cheaper at the end of the day than any other construction method out there, despite the free materials. Your time is (for most people) money and packing a tire completely full of dirt and putting it into place takes a lot longer than you might think. But it's a solid house at the end of the day and an environmentally sound way to get rid of some old tires and cans.

    I have come around to the opinion that well-managed timber harvesting (of trees planted and farmed for this purpose - not old growth or national parks) *is* potentially sustainable. If a mixture of tree species are planted, it's providing habitat for decades in between harvests. The trees are producing oxygen and generally doing good for the world. Stick-frame construction utilizes small pieces of lumber that don't need to come from huge, older trees. Engineered wood products like OSB allow us to use every last shred of scrap without waste. Hence a stick frame house that will outlive the builder can potentially be not only inexpensive and easy to build but also environmentally friendly.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to build.

    -Jack
     
  4. nodak3

    nodak3 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The earth ship will be miles ahead of wood frame environmentally when you factor in energy consumption. Just be careful--they work great in arid NM but I would be concerned about humidity and mold in some parts of the country.
     
  5. Buffy in Dallas

    Buffy in Dallas Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am planning an "earthship" type house but built with wood instead of tires.

    http://www.undergroundhousing.com/

    It will have all the sustainable attributes of an earthship without the endless tire pounding, built faster and less work. Definitely healthier.
     
  6. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Add in the physical fitness from pounding tires,might be 'healthier' in that respect.

    BooBoo
     
  7. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I've been in one earthship in CO. The family was living in it even tho they had not got round to plastering the tires. I'm very sensitive to odors and didn't notice any while I was in there. OTOH, I cannot bear to be in a new tire store for more than a minute or two without having a headache. Since only old tires are used, they seem to have outgassed pretty well before being recycled into homes. I did not spend the night there with things closed up, so that may or may not have made a difference.