What is Earthbag Building?

I’ve been a proponent of earthbag building for well over a decade now. When I tell people what I teach, I’d say that at least 95% of folks haven’t heard of it. The premise is simple: put dirt (a mix of sand and clay) in sandbags and build walls with it. We built our first earthbag house in 2009 and I have been an avid spreader of the dirtbag gospel ever since.

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The Beauty of Bottle Walls

My first exposure to the concept of bottle walls was through one of Mike Reynold’s earthship books. Mike developed the idea of earthships in the 70’s when recycling was in it’s infancy. Landfills were filling up with glass bottles–a foolish waste of an amazing material. What Mike found was that you could build walls of amazing beauty and durability, that evoke the feeling of stained glass, by using these discarded (dare I say, “disgraced”?) receptacles.

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Building our Earthship-Inspired Earthbag House

In 2014 our small intentional community purchased twelve acres of prime land in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over the next year and a half, we helped our community members build infrastructure and their earthbag house. In the spring of 2016, we began work on our own earthship-inspired earthbag house.

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Our Earthbag Tiny House

I quickly fell in love with earthbag building after discovering it in 2007. The fact that you could build an extremely strong, extremely inexpensive house using materials from under your feet was very appealing to me. in 2019, after building two of our own larger earthbag houses, I decided to go small and build an earthbag tiny house. I was having a bit of a midlife crisis and wanted to downsize and simplify my life or to at least model that possibility for others.

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Where Can I Buy Earthbags? (Updated Monthly)

One of the more frequent questions I hear is where to find a good deal on sandbags. I usually buy mine from eBay. Bags come in two main sizes, 14″ x 26″ and 18″ x 30″. We always use the smaller bags which weigh about 40 to 50 lbs each when full and make a wall about a foot thick when plastered. We buy 1000 bags at a time so you get a better bulk buying discount.

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