Garbage Warrior

Dont judge a man by his wild hair.
Don't judge a man by his wild hair.

Michael Reynolds is another unsung hero trying to right some of the wrongs that humanity has accrued on Earth for far too long. Based in Taos, New Mexico, he has worked for over 30 years to create self-sustaining homes, which he and his followers call Earthships, made of recycled, natural and local materials.

One of Reynolds Earthships.
One of Reynold's 'Earthships'.

Reynolds studied architecture, and upon attaining his degree decided it was all bullshit – that people were too focused on making all sorts of things that are just unnecessary. Now, he refers to his line of work as ‘biotecture’.

Biotecture n. 1. the profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their sustainability. 2. A combination of biology and architecture.

From the Earthship website:

The 6 Principles that define an Earthship:
1) Thermal/Solar Heating & Cooling
2) Solar & Wind Electricity
3) Contained Sewage Treatment
4) Building with Natural & Recycled Materials
5) Water Harvesting
6) Food Production

In other words, NO electricity or water bills!! Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But you see it all in the documentary, and it seems so simple, you have to wonder why this hasn’t been done more. Reynolds has also taken his ideas and skills to places outside of New Mexico though, as mentioned in the film, and his work is catching on all over the world.

The bottles laid in the concrete look like gems.
Bottles of glass and plastic, laid in the concrete look like gems. Reynolds also uses lots of old tires in his structures.

Not only is the work presented in this film just a sight to behold, but Reynolds himself is a very entertaining character. He’s as down-to-earth as they come, with a mouth of a truck driver, and a look that just screams brilliance. It’s especially funny watching his personality and style clash with those at the New Mexico House of Reps (or rather the lack of personality and style there).

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this quote from Reynolds, taken from an interview in The Guardian last summer:

“I have to say this whole green thing is a little bit hard for me. In the 60s every-one talked about love and peace but no one really knew what it meant. Now they talk about green, so that if you’ve put up a shelf made out of recycled wood, you’re green. Green for me is just too light a word for what we need. We need something much more radical.”

More about the film: Garbage Warrior.

For more on Michael Reynolds’ work visit his website.


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