Going green at home has become a fascinating project that many architects here in the U.S. have dedicated their time and imagination to. Recycling, for example, is no longer limited to the bin you throw your water bottles into. Did you know that the country of Sweden recycles waste so well and so efficiently that they now have to import it from neighboring countries? What an impressive dilemma to have. Although we don’t convert our waste to fuel here in the states all that much, we have innovated other ways to recycle and “go green”. And, although Shea Homes does not offer these amenities in its homes, we thought we would share these mind-blowing examples of how homes can be built out of trash! Who knew?

Sustainable Structures

The building of a sustainable structure with reclaimed items

After graduating from architectural school in 1969, Michael Reynolds was inspired to build homes from “trash,” which he classified as “Earthships.”

These homes are built entirely out of automobile tires and soil which make up the foundation and walls of the structure. The numbers of tires used range from 500 to 5,000 and provide thermal mass, which keep the building warm and cool without using electricity and thus, making these homes self-sustaining.

Bathroom of the "Phoenix Earthship"

The bathroom of the “Phoenix Earthship”.

(Above) The bathroom of the “Phoenix Earthship”, located in New Mexico, has walls made from glass bottles and cement.

The "Phoenix Earthship's" roof

The roof of the "Phoenix Earthship".

(Above) Metal from old washing machines, refrigerators and stoves were used to create this Earthship’s roof.

Bathroom of mosaic pieces

Shower by Dan Philips.

If you ever find yourself in Texas, keep a look out for Dan Philips’ work. He is known to build homes with any materials that cooperate. In the shower (above), he used mosaic tile, tile shards, glass and rocks and the floor is a compilation of several paper-Mache beer bottle labels. It doesn’t get much more creative than this!

Cork floor by Dan Philips

Cork flooring by Dan Philips.

Are you running out of places to put your worldly collection of wine corks? Do a bit of remodeling and they will always be on display, while taking up no room at all! Dan Philips also created this version of cork-flooring (above) that’s made entirely out of wine corks with various fasteners and adhesives. He mentions that a lot of his projects are a learning experience since most of his creations have never been done before.

Bottlecap flooring by Dan Philips

Old-fashioned bottle cap flooring by Dan Philips.

Or say you fancy collecting old fashion bottle caps instead of wine corks… try this option (above)! This is another piece of Philips’ work, also in a Texas home. Although his work is solicited world-wide, Philips prefers to stay local and give back to his community, giving them the stepping stones to an eco-friendly lifestyle.


Using old jeans for insulation

Put your old jeans to good use!

It’s time to get rid of those old 80s-style jeans that have been sitting in your dresser for years, and they can actually be put to good use! Once jeans are turned into cotton batting and then treated to become fire-retardant and resistant to mold and mildew, they function perfectly as building insulation!


Fly ash used to make bricks or pavers

Turn fly ash into bricks to use as pavers for your yard.

This idea is perfect if you are in search of spicing up your patio. The ashes left after coal has been burned are called fly ash, and can be recycled and made into bricks. A perfect recipe for these bricks requires the fly ash to be mixed with sand, water and pigments. The energy used in the process of molding and curing these bricks is about a tenth of that used to make conventional bricks.


Vetrazzo countertops shown in a kitchen

Vetrazzo counterops.

Vetrazzo countertops are made of recycled glass from various different sources ranging from wine, beer and soda bottles to post-industrial glass, to leftovers from factories that make glass products. The glass is mixed with cement but over 85% of the slab remains glass. You can purchase Vetrazzo countertops in a variety of shades and hues to fit your design desires! This product is not limited to countertops, but can also be used for backsplashes and outdoor fixtures.

Long-Lasting lumber

Deck made out of plastic lumber

Try durable plastic lumber.

Plastic lumber is a real thing, and is made from industrial waste! It can be used for decking, patio tiles, fences, benches, playgrounds and more! It is more expensive than wood but has proved to be low maintenance and very durable that will easily last 30 to 40 years.

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood fence

Make old new again with reclaimed wood.

Windfall is a new product made from recycled barn wood, supplied from torn down granaries and mills in the U.S. The reclaimed wood is then transformed into panels.


Plastic carpet by EverStrand

EverStrand®, an eco-friendly carpet made of plastic.

A new carpet product called EverStrand® is made out of recycled bottles that are converted to polyester, and actually make for a more superior, high performance carpet. As much as 100 percent of the fiber can be made out of recycled materials.


Euroshield roof made of recycled tires

In 1999, Henry Kamphuis found a way to work with the overabundance of old tires.

He created Euroshield® roofing products which use a minimum of 75 percent recycled materials. The products have a lifetime warranty, are nearly maintenance free and the rubber is impact resistant making it perfect for roofing.

This blog post is based off an article on MSN.com by Leah L. Culler of MSN Real Estate.

DISCLAIMER: Shea Homes Arizona does not endorse, promote, review, or warrant the accuracy of the products or services mentioned in this article, nor does Shea Homes Arizona offer any of these products or features in its homes in any of its communities we just thought it was fun!

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