Earthbag is Another Disruptive Technology

From Wiki: “A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is an innovation that disrupts an existing market. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by lowering price or designing for a different set of consumers.”

In some ways earthbag building can be considered a disruptive technology, because it offers a dirt cheap alternative housing solution that runs contrary to mass market solutions. The titans of industry (bankers, steel and concrete industries, etc.) are cut out of the loop when people build their own low cost homes for cash using simple building methods. This process essentially “starves the beast” that’s currently so many problems in our world. Earthbag is still a niche market, but it promises to join a long line of other disruptive technologies such as personal computers, desktop publishing, Internet, mobile telephones and so on.

Imagine a new world where mass numbers of people:
– pull their money out of banks in favor of Ithaca dollars, Bitcoin and other alternative currencies and/or turn to bartering on a large scale from local businesses
– start home-based businesses
– switch to solar, wind, microhydro and possibly Andrea Rossi’s Energy Catalyzer (let’s hope it really works)
– grow their own fresh, healthy food with heirloom seeds
– switch to alternative news sites on a massive scale
– homeschool their children
– start grassroot political movements to create positive change for average folks

15 thoughts on “Earthbag is Another Disruptive Technology”

      • Well, building codes and such make it essentially illegal to build your own house, and homeschooling is similarly burdened with ridiculous rules and regulations, and entirely illegal in many places. The same goes for wind turbines and other “eyesores”. Half of the stuff in your list is prohibited by my local or county government. Even home-based business is regulated to death. The local code specifically calls it out on zoning grounds.

        • Thanks for contributing. With all due respect, you’re confusing the word illegal with “rules” or “regulations” often established by homeowner associations. I not suggesting breaking the law. I listed a few things almost anyone can do if they really want. This may involve moving to where they don’t have fewer ridiculous rules and regulations.

          Homeschooling may be off limits in some states, but other places it’s okay.

          And it is definitely not illegal to build your own home. That is a fundamental right.

      • If it’s a fundamental right, then what explains the morass of rules and regulations the prohibit all actions not already approved? Speaking and practicing a religion are fundamental rights, but the government can’t make you get a permit to worship or talk.

        When I said that building a house was illegal, I wasn’t referring to homeowner’s associations; I had building codes, local planning boards, construction permits, and land-use regulations in mind. Let me perhaps explain my thinking:

        A local government first starts off by saying, “Nobody may construct anything anywhere, even on land that they own.” The local government then goes on to describe exceptions to this blanket ban, which involve appealing to them for costly permits, following strict rules that they either create or adopt, and consenting to inspections, fees, taxes, and all manner of other coercive actions that you wouldn’t want if you had the choice.

        Perhaps I’m showing my ideological colors here, but if an action is made illegal save for a few exceptions that I must appeal to a government bureaucrat for permission to take advantage of, then I don’t consider the originally desired action to be legal anymore. Sure, you can jump through the government’s hoops and pay large fees to make it legal within certain narrow and limited boundaries, but that’s not the same thing. The right has been crushed.

        If I lived in a society in which all speech was illegal, and if I wanted to speak, I had to apply for a speech permit that would take months to approve and required me to prove my need to speak and that my speech would not be dangerous or inflammatory, and then the permit entitled me to speak only the words listed in a government-provided book, and required that I renew my permit annually at great cost, then I could consider speech effectively illegal. Not regulated. Not even over-regulated. Illegal. That’s what it seems we have with construction. You can’t do it at all unless you get explicit permission to do a specific thing, and even then, you can only do what a gigantic book says you can do and it tells you exactly how to do it.

        • That’s true in many cases, but fortunately there are still places with no or minimal codes. Vote with your feet unless you have lots of time and money to buck the system.

  1. If only enough people were smart enough to do this!!!!!! Your seven steps are a great, sound idea. I am afraid that too many are unwilling to wake up until it is too late. Thanks for all your work, this is a wonderful blog!

  2. That’s a compelling call to…well, I was going to say “arms”, but haven’t we had enough war-based lingo in our history? So, to rephrase: that’s a compelling cry for change.
    And change starts at home, with the willingness to travel the less-familiar/comfortable/convenient road. Until the majority of people realize corporations and their pollution of our civilization are merely extrapolations of our own laziness and lack of desire to carry our own water, so to speak, nothing will change.
    They, like the moster robots of science fiction, are our own creation. We asked for mass consumer marketing and now we’ve got it, in everything and everywhere.
    Until we say no to atmospheric and heat pollution, crap food, war, poverty and homelessness on our own shores, rather than get all worked up about Presidential birth certificates; until we decide to take on the building codes and the industries they protect (and that we created ourselves because we wanted to make more money at a “job”, drive a nice car, buy a house we didn’t have the money to own, rather than build it, etc. etc. etc.), then nothing will really change.
    Like the Drug War, we are the problem…and also the solution. If the majority of people stopped using drugs tomorrow, there would be no need for illicit supply. There would be no drug cartels.
    Stop eating junk food, and goodbye McDonalds, goodbye sugary foods, goodbye obesity.
    Stop buying muscle cars and SUVs and be willing to carpool or ride busses etc., and goodbye energy hogging vehicles and hello alternatives such as electrics, mass-produced and affordable.
    The problem is us. And the solution is us.
    Without personal responsibility, things don’t appreciably change for the better.
    That’s why I’m gathering my energies to build an earthbag home, and not in a no-zone community far from friends and family, but right here where I live because I live in America, the land of the free, and I want to prove to myself and my friends and family that I have the right to do so, as long as I don’t threaten anyone else’s safety.
    That’s why I’m buying food from local coops rather than the big chain stores because that’s the beginning of local sustainability.
    That’s why I’m exploring electric scooters for runs into town, solar power for home and home business, and lots more.
    Change begins at home. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do, but I do believe as you say that standing up on our own feet, doing our thing, not in defiance of anything, but just in a smarter, non-mass-marketing way, is my equivalent of throwing open the window and saying, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.”

    • …In my opinion, allowing the government to ban something also gives the government a convenient slippery slope. Some say cannabis was made illegal in the United States in the same year a machine that could easily process hemp fiber was invented, providing a competitor to nylon.

      I can easily see big lumber/concrete lobbying the government to ban earthbag houses. You are already facing a sort of earthbag prohibition in most of the country due to “government knows better” building codes. It is quite an easy battle for them to win and they can easily dehumanize their enemies, people like us who want earth friendly housing at a cheap price.

      It is extremely important that we focus on the safety and low cost of ownership associated with earthbag building techniques rather than “saving Mother Earth.” The saving Mother Earth part is just a side benefit. Win the hearts of people by focusing on what they truly care about.

      “Imagine a world where you can retire at 50, and/or work part-time instead of full-time, allowing you to enjoy life more and spend time with the spouse and kids if applicable.” …

      • [Ed.: This is a housing blog and off topic content may get deleted in the interest of staying on topic. Sorry if this offends anyone.]

        …Long story short, politicians are the problem, and the solution is either elect politicians that will pander to our needs and wants, or overthrow the government and replace it with one that is less corrupt.

    • Some people are speculating that the technology will be pirated in developing countries. People are so desperate for affordable energy that there will be no way to stop knock off versions once the cat is out of the bag (= reverse engineering from studying the patents).


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