Self-Sufficient Earthship Community Planned For Malawi

Tired of toxic homes and rampant consumption, we’re getting creative about where and how we live. Ideas about how to build a home, the materials that should be used, and how much space is actually needed, are changing. Although this “return to the homestead” is most obvious in the modern world, principles of off-grid living can create life-saving change in the developing world as well.

A campaign now gathering funding on Indiegogo seeks to bring renewable energy and self-reliant living to Malawi, Africa in the form of an Earthship. Created by Michael Reynolds, founder of Earthship Biotecture, an Earthship is a radically-sustainable building that uses elegant architectural design to harness renewable energy and reduce waste.

Earthship-Sierra-Leone

Image via Earthship Biotecture and Empower Malawi

The project is a joint effort of Earthship Biotecture and Empower Malawi, a local organization working to enable rural communities to overcome systemic poverty by achieving self-reliance. The plan is to build an Earthship Community Center in Mzimba which will serve as a sustainable development epicenter for 38 villages and over 5,000 rural people in Malawi.

“The region has no access to electricity and has poor sanitation, healthcare access (closest clinic 15 kms, major hospital 200 km) and the closest bank and market is over 60 kms away,” states the project’s crowdfunding page. “That said, the hilly region is blessed with high levels of sunshine and rainfall which allow for an abundance of fruit and vegetable varieties to be grown in the region.”

These are perfect conditions for an Earthship. Replicating successful Earthship projects already completed in Haiti and Sierra Leone, the Kapita Earthship Community Center will feature rainwater catchment and filtration, solar energy, waste water management, thermal cooling and greenhouse technologies. It will be partially built by volunteers who will then train local community members how to complete the structure, thus passing on valuable skills and construction knowledge.

Although the Earthship will utilize many recycled materials, some technology is needed. The project is hoping to raise a mere $13,000 for solar and water filtration equipment. Find out how you can help, here.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

    • Jackson

      Sustainable homes are great, using tires and bottles that contain carcinogenic compounds and heavy metals isn’t. And like in Taos, is Reynold’s company, Earthship Biotecture, going to hire cheap/free labor under the guise of internships then sell the houses for hundreds of thousands of dollars? Asking for donations is great too. $13,000 should be enough to provide solar energy and water filtration for one to three buildings, just like in Taos, where they charge people $5 for self guided “tour” of the demo houses.
      This is an unbiased article based on science which sites verifiable sources and provides links; http://www.archinia.com/about-us/publications/214-earthship-scientific-research.html

    • Jackson

      Building sustainable homes is great, using tires and plastic bottles that contain carcinogens and heavy metals isn’t.
      Here’s an unbiased article based on science that provides verifiable links to it’s sources; http://www.archinia.com/about-us/publications/214-earthship-scientific-research.html
      The donations they seek should be enough for Reynold’s company, Earthship Biotecture, to provide equipment for the community center, or like in Taos one or two demo houses where they charge people $5 for a self guided “tour” filled with real estate advertisements.