Trash to Riches: The Seattle Earthship Action Day [VIDEO]

Trash to Riches: The Seattle Earthship Action Day [VIDEO]
October 22, 2014 Perma Action

The Permaculture Team arrived to zip code ‘98118‘, the Columbia City neighborhood in Seattle (one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country) amid a flurry of activity focused on building an Earthship.  Volunteers were hard at work hammering earth into tires, stripping pallets to reuse lumber, making natural cob (mixture of sand, clay, straw, and water), and creating bottle bricks from trash destined for a land fill.

The Seattle “Trash” Studio is a radical demonstration site for a combination of natural building with up cycled materials and permaculture design. To learn more about the Seattle Trash Studio or the Earthship Seattle please visit: |

What is an earthship?

Is it an intergalactic, floating, craft? No- it’s much better. An earthship is a ‘living’ structure. It uses all repurposed materials such as tires, bottles, clay, cement, and “trash” to build a structure that recycles trash into resources by using materials that can be found in the area.

Bottle bricks, often referred to as “earthbricks”, offer a solution for the placeless, inorganic, landfill “trash”. Trash is stuffed into a plastic bottle and compressed with a stick until it becomes full and compact- like a brick, that can be used for building structures like benches or earthships.


Does your soil need help? Maybe some enrichment and rejuvenation? Forget the fertilizer and use charcoal.  Biochar is the term used when charcoal is used for soil restoration.

List of uses of biochar

  • Inexpensive soil amelioration for degraded land (i.e. biochar as a liming agent)
  • Need less land = lower startup costs for a Sustainable Village
  • Increased biomass productivity
  • Efficient use of biomass waste for energy generation
  • Reduced need for fertilizer input (e.g. manure)
  • Combine biochar with vermicompost to make superb fertilizer.
  • Pyrolysis gas can be used for energy and as a heat source
  • Bio-oil and tars are also by-products of pyrolysis, can be turned into biodiesel
  • Add charcoal to compost heap to speed up composting (probably works via enhanced microbial activity)
  • Biochar for sale as a source of income for an emerging community

(Sourced from Apropedia)

It’s a little complex, but definitely doable. For more information, please visit –



Volunteers use their feet

Lunch! A welcomed break after a morning of hard work.

Land owners like Roxanne make projects like this possible!