I visited Taos, NM last year and I stayed in an Earthship while I was down there. The experience of living in an off-the-grid 'house' blew my mind. It was a completely self-sustainable, mortgage-free structure - electricity was generated by solar panels on the roof and stored in a huge battery, rainwater was captured by a large water tank built into the house, heat was produced by a long South facing window, and the toilet/water waste produced was composted and recycled back into the earth.
I was skeptical at first and I was expecting some of kind of issue to arise - being too hot or too cold in the house, having restrictions on our water or electricity use, simply something malfunctioning or breaking. But I have to say, staying in an Earthship for 4 days was extremely easy and I didn't have to change a thing with my daily routine.
The Earthship experience really got me thinking and asking questions about the future of sustainable living. Why aren't these Earthships the predominant method of building houses? There are many reasons but a few include:
- The high cost of labor and/or materials - an average Earthship can cost between $75k-$225k to build.
- You have to own the land and meet all of your municipalities building codes.
- The build-out would most likely have to be a cash purchase.
The Future of Sustainable Living - Eco-capsules
So I held onto this sustainable living idea and continued to search for other options. I recently came across this article in Quartz magazine. The eco-capsule idea is a portable, operates on both solar and wind power, and a very small footprint. The design is beautiful but the price point (which is unknown currently) will probably be VERY high. The shipping cost to New York alone is $2k.
The power is in the idea however and the DIY solution is simple and quite inexpensive. It would entail:
- Purchasing a used 'teardrop' trailer of any size (approx. 2k-8k)
- Adding solar panels, fridge, and a battery to it (approx. $1400-$1900)
- Finding free or cheap land to park the trailer and live on! (approx. $0-$300 per month)
The benefits are many:
- Moving is easy. If you get tired of living in one place, hitch the trailer to your vehicle and move.
- Spend more time outdoors. Since the teardrop trailer is small, it will force you to be outside more often.
- No mortgage or utilities. Although you may have to pay to rent a place to park the trailer, you won't have to make monthly mortgage payments nor pay for electricity, gas, or water utilities!
Have you thought about living off-the-grid?