I think the first time I stumbled across the concept of Earthships was in my Facebook feed, and I was immediately intrigued. I spend a lot of my time writing about trends in housing and real estate, so of course this caught my attention. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling this a trend; I think it’s more of a movement to save Mother Earth. The more I read, the more I learned that Earthships represent the ultimate in sustainable, responsible living.

Before you picture a futuristic structure fresh out of The Jetson’s cartoon (at first I pictured some sort of space pod), let’s take a closer look at what an Earthship is. Developed by Earthship Biotecture out of Taos, New Mexico, Earthships are “radically sustainable buildings; the epitome of sustainable design and construction.” The designs are completely passive, green buildings that meet standard building code requirements, so can be built anywhere in the world. They come complete with all the comforts of modern living, just in a more responsible, environmentally friendly way. Earthships are the brainchild of architect Michael Reynolds, who in the 1970s envisioned a home that would be environmentally friendly using recycled materials whenever possible, allow individuals to live off the grid, and would require no special skills to build. That’s when his first U-shaped tire home was built.

Earthships rely on natural resources such as solar and wind power and recycled rainwater, which allows the homeowners to live virtually off the grid, away from public utilities and fossil fuels. Most designs come with an area for an indoor greenhouse to grow your own food resources. Not only are the systems sustainable, so is the home’s construction. Homes will use local or recycled materials as much as possible in the build, including discarded but abundant materials such as tires and plastic or glass bottles. It’s for this reason that an Earthship is also a sound housing solution for disaster relief or in developing nations.

Earthships are inexpensive to build, with models ranging from about $20,000-$70,000, and can be built relatively quickly. They’re not all domes or built into the side of hills, either. Earthships can be as elaborate and modern as you’d like, with the expert guidance from Earthship Biotecture (they even offer workshops, lectures, training conferences, and the 4- or 6-week long Earthship Academy).

Today, Earthships are being built all around the world as examples of responsible, sustainable, economical living. They represent the ultimate in stewardship to our planet and responsible use of our resources. In an age where we’re facing massive McMansions in every town, Earthships prove you can live in comfort and beauty without monopolizing our planet’s resources. They’re a great solution for those who are committed to living the ultimate green lifestyle, and are ready to build their own dream home, on their terms (but don’t want to sacrifice space by moving into a 170 sq. ft. “tiny home”).

What do you think about Earthships? Would you build and live in your own Earthship? Where would your ideal location be for your Earthship? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

image: Sue Stokes via Shutterstock