Exploring Earthships: Eco-Friendly Options Beyond Tires

Introducing Earthship Alternatives: CMU, Formed Concrete, ICF, Earth Umbrella


In this video, we discuss alternative options to using tires in Earthship homes. While tires are structurally stable and durable, the idea of having walls filled with rubber can be a concern for some. We explore faster, easier, and potentially stronger alternatives that can be considered.

One suggested alternative is using dry stack block walls, as recommended by a website dedicated to green and healthy homes[^1^]. This method allows for the use of regular blocks without the need for mortar, making it a relatively simple installation process. However, if the site has slopes or if burial of the walls is planned, extra considerations need to be made for proper coating and excavation.

Another option to explore is the use of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF), with different types of ICF block units available. While ICF provides thermal mass, which may not be necessary for an Earthship design, it does require professional assistance for pouring and potential challenges in case of a blowout during the process[^2^].

Using Concrete Mixer Units (CMU) is another cost-effective and self-installation option to consider. Traditional or dry stack, CMUs can be easily laid by homeowners without the need for tire-pounding labor. Depending on the size and usage of the structure, self-installing CMUs may be a viable choice, especially when combined with additional insulation methods.

Timber, as featured in various sources and books, presents another alternative worth exploring. However, the concern lies in the long-term durability of wood foundations when exposed to the elements. The lifespan of logs in the ground is uncertain and could present challenges for sustainable construction[^3^].

We encourage you to join the discussion in the comments section and share your thoughts or suggestions for alternative materials and construction methods for Earthship walls. Let’s explore the possibilities together!

earthship homes, earthship tires, earthship alternatives

[^1^]: [Green Healthy Homes](
[^2^]: [Insulated Concrete Forms](
[^3^]: [Timber Construction](

Alternative to Earthship tire walls: CMU, Formed Concrete, ICF, Earth UmbrellaEve Gravel

What do you think?


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  1. You can make hesco barriers, use terrestrial Earth with a bag of Portland cement per 5x5x5 cube. You have to buy the wire in the landscaping cloth, using it for structural walls I would include wire every foot so the basket maintains a square shape or whatever shape you intended to be. Mix it with the Portland, fill it, Tamp it, put your next 5 ft section on top of it 4x4x5, then use your bond beam… Then you just use stuck on the outside and the wire that is already on the barrier three-by-three square is a perfect anchoring point for your chicken wire. Are you basically doing is waterproofing the outside. With that much mass mass, it's going to be far more than any tires that packing, having the Portland cement will make stabilized earth. All you need really is a backhoe and you can have your walls done in a few days… Or you can pack tires it's up to you 🤷

  2. The idea of ​​the tires is very stupid, and it is the reason why the idea of ​​the earth ship has not spread..and I expect many people when they try to fill one tire..they did not complete the rest.

  3. Why not make a bermed ferrocement dome? The berm creates the necessary thermic mass and ferrocement structures are extremely resistant to tensile as well as compressive forces. They can also be made perfectly waterproof: people actually built ocean going sailboats out of ferrocement! And… it's cheap, it can be done yourself, you can get creative with organic "Gaúdi" shapes, and… it's less labour intensive than making tire walls.
    Btw., there's a YouTube video on a beautiful underground ferrocement dome house…

  4. OK, friend here's my take: junk tires are almost free, It's the pounding that ruins the scenario. Solution: Using cut-off saw with metal blade cut one sidewall off each tire. Lay out the row of tires to your string line. Fill by shovel or front loader on a backhoe, sprinkle water if it helps pack it or lowers dust. Add back of tire dirt so the top of tire is equal to the level of the dirt support behind. In this fashion the wall goes up as the support dirt grows behind it. All packed down by l'il ol' me on my backhoe "Mo"

  5. I feel it would be very helpful if someone would be willing to go through these comments and organize them a bit. I spent a lot of time reading the comments as we are seriously thinking about building one as well. Personally, I'm not worried about tires gasses, but I'm not going to pound tires at age 45. Straw bales have great insulation value, but don't have the thermal mass. I like tire bales, but am concerned about selling my house at some point. If a bank won't finance it, then it becomes a worse investment and maybe that is what has been preventing these from becoming more popular. Honestly, I'm leaning towards concrete or cement block walls with using earthship principles to minimize heating and water bills here in North Dakota.

    After reading many comments I don't see a better idea for the average person. Professional builders use concrete walls for basements here in North Dakota. Do we think they who do this for a living don't know what they are doing? Time is money. and what about resale value? Are you going to live there forever? I'm thinking concrete or cement block wall with insulation and water barrier in the correct places to create the thermal mass.

  6. The point is to use the tires, to cut down on the unusable tires up. Instead of burning them or leaving them to haphazardly pollute the land. Just put the work in and you'll feel awesome when it's done.

  7. I'm not smart or anything but I definitely have this burning desire to build an earth ship of my own one day. I love how it is designed Mike Renolds right?
    Well I love to read comments on what I am watching ☺️

  8. My husband and I are also thinking about building an earth ship, however we don't want to pound tires all day long either, and idk if I could do it. However we're thinking about using straw bale's to make an earth ship home. Like a cob house, but with straw bale's, walls would still be 2ft thick then. And you wouldn't have to insulate because that's what the bails do. Anyway what do you think about straw bales?

  9. You probably don't want insulation on the back wall because you want the low winter sun to hit it and permeate into the dirt behind as a thermal battery. Concrete might be more expensive but it's not too bad compared to the concrete pour for a standard house basement and it's a major part of the house.

  10. I'm curious to hear an update on this video. Did you reach any conclusion on an alternative to the tire wall?

    I like SOME of the ideas of the Earthship, but have my own goals for building it, and the tire wall isn't something I'm interested it.

    I'd like to build mine in Michigan and want to merge some of the best ideas of Earthship with a barndominium concept. I'm looking for a small temperature-controlled living space surrounded by what would essentially be a large structure/half-greenhouse, half-barn to have a moderate environment to grow a garden and keep a workshop area, and garage access to the living structure without going completely outside.

    An update on anything you learned could be good.

  11. well I am right now also thinking about it. I am from poland and there is a polish company that is making some interisting stuff they call DOM3E they are doing some lego bricks ou tof Perlite- very simple to build and fast and the price is also okay- and perlite is somehow a littlbit more ecofriendly and has some nice properties. what do you think about it?

  12. Matt I completely agree….. I love the earth ship concept, but the thought of beating dirt by hand into old tires seems beyond labor intensive. Obviously if someone has no resources that would be the way to go, But I assume for people like you and me time is money. Another idea for that tire wall would be to use tires as a sort of form for concrete. Obviously lumber forms
    Can get expensive. Using the tires themselves as a form to fill with concrete would be a great way to cheaply form a concrete wall…… you could also implement rebar throughout tire concrete wall for added rigidity.

  13. I don’t trust tire walls in an earthquake so I built my earthship with 4 concrete reinforced walls (the walls facing the earth berm were engineered with 5/8 rebar). The south facing wall acts as a trombe wall and it works very well. I put stucco on the south side of that wall and thin brick on the inside. If I were to use tires I would secure them to each other with fasteners and then fill them with rebar reinforced aircrete. I saw the double decker freeways in SF after they collapsed onto each other so I have a keen respect for earthquakes.

  14. While I am no expert by any means, yet have some knowledge in construction. I can se what you are trying to do here.
    However, it is different to build a self sustaining home off grid than an earthship.
    The beauty of the earth ship, (not that I've ever been in one) is the fact that they are recycling parts of the landfills, unkind materials that we as humans insist in using. It is reducing the carbon footprint and the garbage in the landfills combined as an act of kindness to the earth. It was intrusted to us by God to care and protect his creation. So do we have a responsibility to reduce our own garbage?
    Today there are earthships being built beautifully and modern with great taste and incredible finishes inside.
    I like the responsibility one asumes by living an eco friendly self sustained home, removing garbage from landfills that are so harmful to the aquifers and that pollute the soil such as tires when exposed? This is real forward responsible thinking when it comes to recycling tires.
    There are people today desperately needing work. Can't you hire a bunch of people to pound the tires to shorten that timespan and still be friendly to mother earth and to others in need?
    Working with sand holds temperature differently and water and sand interact differently. So it requires other aspects in construction to consider especially in different climates.
    Not that I am bias to what you say but I wouldn't call what you are trying to build an earth ship if you are not recycling tires, glass and cans. Even if it is self contained and self sustaining. You could even gather workers for pounding tires from a shelter or the list of unemployed in order to have cheaper labour and get it done fast.
    Basically if you are not using recicled materials, and the earth provided materials that surround you, is it really an earthship? Or are you trying to hold on to older building concepts that you are used to working with, with ease because they are familiar to you and it is easier for you to wrap your head around it? With all due respect. It's only my personal opinion and I'm sure you will come up with great ideas for what you want to build even if it's not an earthship. Wishing you the best with your office. God bless the good in you.

  15. I think that structural 3d printing, especially using carbon-negative cement, would be ideal for an earthship. anything that can knock down the massive labor costs and speed up the process is a good thing. I;d love to see someone give that a shot.

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