Monday, October 17, 2011

Garbage Warrior

Release Date: 2007
Production Company: Open Eye Media UK, iTV2 International, and Sundance Channel
Director: Oliver Hodge
Run time: 84 minutes
Seen on: Sundance channel, also available on Netflix DVD
Recommended: Enjoyable, but you would not be missing anything by not watching it
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%

This documentary focuses on the work of New Mexico based "maverick architect" Michael Reynolds. He was a professionally trained architect who came to view traditional architecture as wasteful and hurting the planet. He developed "Earthships" made out of garbage and natural materials to create self-sustaining homes.

He believed that cities were dying and there should be a movement to self-sustaining homes outside of cities. While I applaud his efforts, there is an intrinsic problem with that theory. Everyone cannot afford to move out of cities and become self-sustaining. People in poverty in cities cannot afford their own "earthships." Even if they could, eventually we would run out of space. I was also skeptical of the homes being able to withstand the extreme cold of northern states. However, New Mexico gets surprisingly cold in winter. One can forget that deserts can be cold as well.

The house he was working on at the time of filming was named "Phoenix." It had no water or power lines going in, and no sewage lines going out. It was completely off the grid. It had its own greenhouse growing fruits and veggies. There would also be goats and chickens for the family.

The techniques to build the structures is interesting. He used garbage to create well insulated experimental homes. Glass bottles were used as bricks within concrete walls. The varying colors created a stained glass effect. Two plastic bottles were cut and placed together to create "bricks" placed within concrete walls. Used tires were packed with earth to create a insulated wall.

Because Reynolds' work was experimental, it often had problems. Roofs leaked. South facing window walls overheated homes to dangerous levels. Reynolds had numerous lawsuits against him.

Overall, I enjoyed this film. It was an interesting study in sustainability and made me think about how I can change my everyday life to be more ecological.

After forgetting to blog after a busy fall, I hope to have more posts soon. My recent viewings have included several episodes of Vanguard and The Tillman Story.

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