What is an Earthship?

Just as a ship setting off on a long voyage must provide for all the needs of its crew, so an Earthship provides for the basic needs of shelter, water and electricity through its design and systems.

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An Earthship is a passive solar building with thermal mass. This means that it maintains a comfortable living temperature year round. It is made from natural and recycled materials – predominantly earth-rammed tyres and aluminium cans. It is powered by renewable energy, such as wind, water and solar power. It catches its own water supply from rainwater, and treats and contains its own sewage in planter beds.

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Earthships are a concept, not a set design. They can be adapted for any climate worldwide. Earthships offer people the opportunity to build their own homes and make a conscious decision to live lightly on the earth.

Both the functionality and the aesthetics of the Earthship were adapted for Scotland in the Earthship Fife project.

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Where did they come from ?

Earthships were first developed in South Western USA in the 1970s. Since then they have evolved tremendously and now exist in virtually every climate. There are over 2,000 Earthships and they are spreading fast! For Earthship Biotecture in New Mexico, please visit Earthship Biotecture

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Where did Earthship Fife come from ?

Earthship Fife was brought to Scotland by Paula Cowie, the founder of SCI. Paula visited Taos, New Mexico, in 1999 and “accidentally” stumbled upon one of the Earthship communities. They soon became the subject of her Masters dissertation at Stirling University and, not content to look at only the theory, she set up the organisation to fundraise for the first UK Earthship. In 2002 the funds were in place, planning permission was secure, and Michael Reynolds and a team of experienced Earthship builders arrived to deliver the training course that started the building. During the 2 year building period over 225 volunteers enjoyed some aspect of creating Earthship Fife.

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If you are considering an Earthship project of your own please visit our Advice & Support page for details of the services we offer.

What does an Earthship do ?

As an organisation committed to social and environmental change that benefits people’s lives and the sustainability of the Earth’s natural resources, the Earthship helped us to demonstrate in many ways how to achieve that goal.

Earthships inspire change in people’s ways of living – from small changes such as in ways to save water, grow food, and re-use and reduce waste, to large changes like building sustainable homes.

These changes resource us as individuals in communities by giving us more skills and choices, while using waste gives us more physical resources at our fingertips.

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An Earthship makes us more aware of our impact on the world, and of how our actions have a consequence. It makes us think about our energy use, and makes us more aware of the climate we live in. Earth surrounds the building on 3 sides and the weather determines how warm we are and how much electricity we have.

Due to the fact it is a simple but effective building design that can be followed by unskilled people, an Earthship also inspires hope in people – as we sit in one we realise that ordinary people can build sustainable homes, and that simple ideas can be transforming – however big or small.

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