Earthship Spotting in Guatemala

By Cynthia Ord

Earthships have invaded various places in the U.S. such as New Mexico, and now these remarkable structures can be spotted all over the world. An earthship is a house or building that employs alternative construction methods and recycled materials. The reasons to build an earthship are many: they’re especially trendy right now, they look cool, and most importantly, they’re intended to leave a lighter ecological footprint than standard building processes.

In San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango, the non-profit organization Long Way Home (LWH) has completed their pilot earthship structure: a small round home made mostly of rammed earth-filled tires and trash-filled plastic bottles. Through its recreation park, LWH has engaged the community of San Juan Comalapa in its alternative methods. Those who want to enjoy this community space must either pay a small admission fee or come with a trash-filled bottle that is already packed and usable for construction. The deal works out well for everyone — the community gets to play soccer, the organization gets building materials, and the environment gets less litter and a little more care.

The completion of the small tire house was just the beginning for LWH. On a piece of land close to the park, the organization has broken ground on what will be a vocational school for the community. The school, which is being built using the same methods and materials as the earthship home, will teach local Guatemalans vocational skills such as accounting and business, carpentry, masonry, and alternative construction. The project is still in its initial phases, and continual funding and labor is needed to fuel the construction.

For anyone wanting to participate in the building of the school, even small donations go a long way. For those traveling with more time than money, LWH has an excellent volunteer program. Volunteering on a project like LWH’s earthship school is not only trendy and cool-looking on Facebook. It’s also important work to be doing. Since these construction methods are labor intensive, the project is counting on high volunteer participation over the next few months and even years.

Visit for more information. Way to practice environmentalism and humanitarianism at the same time, Long Way Home.

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