A House Made From Beer Cans Sparks a Movement
Categories: Homes / Dwellings
Hippie architect Michael Reynolds has spent the past 35 years creating eco-friendly homes known as ‘Earthships’. Using beer cans and tyres to hold the structures together, he came up with a way of life that requires none of the traditional household fuels. Running foul of American planning mandates, he found his buildings threatened, but in the wake of the Boxing Day Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, he has found recognition at last. Brit filmmaker Oliver Hodge’s documentary initially depicts its subject as a bit of an ass, but it gradually becomes obvious that Reynolds is a true humanitarian, offering a real alternative to modern living.
Directed by Flora Lichtman and Katherine Wells for The Adaptors, this film takes an in-depth look at a community living off the grid in Taos, New Mexico. Residents' homes are made out of natural and recycled materials and use solar and wind power for energy.
The community's founder, American architect Michael Reynolds, built his first Earthship house with beer cans in 1972 and has been dedicated to sustainable living for four decades.
Before the birth of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, pollution and litter plagued America.
Despite the obvious problems, architect Michael Reynolds saw an opportunity — making houses out of what he calls "garbage."
"These materials are indigenous to the entire planet," he tells Business Insider. "Everywhere you go, they're present."
After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1969, Reynolds became a proponent of "radically sustainable" living. In '72, he built his first house, made almost entirely from beer and pop cans.
Using a process Reynolds calls "earthship biotecture," a two-bedroom home, requiring about 70,000 cans, would cost $25,000 to $30,000 — 20% less expensive than traditional building at the time.
"The beer can houses kind of started everything," he recalls. Reynolds now runs Earthship Biotecture, a global architecture firm focused on creating self-sustaining homes.
Documerica, a photo project in the 1970s from the newly established EPA, captured Reynolds' humble beginnings in Taos, New Mexico, the location of the first beer can houses.