Building Something from Nothing: Eco-House Made of Trash

Written by Beth Flanagan

These amazing homes were built

from 100% recycled material. The architect, Dan Phillips, uses things that most

people consider garbage, like old license plates for roofing material and beer

caps for flooring.
Eco-House of trash remodeling
Photography by Miro Dvorscak – House and home

Phillips thinks outside the box. The cookie cutter track

house box, that is. Over 12 years ago, he had a vision to create housing for

low-income families using only salvaged material or waste headed straight for

the landfills. That’s when he started his construction company, Phoenix

Commotion. To date, he’s built 14 affordable homes in Huntsville, Texas – all

from discarded material on lots that he purchased or received through donations.
One stipulation is that the future owner must help build their

own house. Homeowners not only invest sweat and time, but they get to know the

homes’ bones, electrical systems and plumbing. The goal is that if something

breaks down, they can fix the problem themselves.
Eco-House of trash recycled shingle roofing
Photo: Michael Stravato for The New York Times

The storybook house above is clad with old, recycled

shingles. The colors were orchestrated to mimic an old thatched roof from England.
These homes are made from whatever free material Phillips

can find at salvage yards, landfills, garbage bins, antique stores, and frame

shops, to name a few. He networks with contractors and designers who don’t mind

at all if Phillips picks through the mountains of junk excavated from a home

You wouldn’t believe some of these building materials!

Champagne corks make lovely cabinet door knobs. Glass bottle bottoms create whimsical stained glass windows. Wine

corks produce fashionable flooring. And picture frame corners make colorful

ceiling tiles. If the material can be used properly for the job, you better

believe it’ll pass code.
Eco-House of trash flooring
Photography by Miro Dvorscak - House and home

Shown above is evidence of what a brilliant mind and another

person’s trash can accomplish. At first glance, this gorgeous floor looks like

it’s made from marbles, mosaic or colored pebbles. You’re actually looking at

hundreds of beer bottle caps.
Eco-House of trash bottle top wall mural
Photo from Phoenix Commotion web site

White, gold and blue bottle caps are artistically placed to

create this beautiful mosaic wall mural of a Copperhead snake.
Eco-House of trash wind cork flooring

Michael Stravato for The New York Times

And these are recycled wine corks adhered together to create

a soft, cushy floor.
Eco-House of trash ceiling art living room kitchen
Photo Credit: House and Home Online

See that incredible ceiling art? The roofing interior is

made from discarded samples of picture frame corners, all fitted together in

colorful geometric patterns.
Eco-House of trash stairway
Photography by Miro Dvorscak - House and home

The picture above shows the local bois d’ark wood used as

railing and an accent. The floor light (rather than skylight) creates a bright,

green glow from the trees underneath, not to mention its artistic quality.
It’s absolutely amazing to see what can be done with waste.

Creative, insightful and aesthetic, these homes will certainly appeal to anyone

who advocates minimal surroundings and sustainable living.
Related Links
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N.Y. Times:

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