When we think about landfills, we often picture giant pits where trash goes to decompose. But what we don’t realize is that landfills are one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, landfills contribute to 22% of methane emissions globally. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has a global warming potential 28 times higher than CO2.

Thankfully, some creative individuals are stopping waste from going to landfill by making houses out of garbage.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the top 5 garbage houses in the world.

top 5 garbage houses

Source: LA Times

5) 3-D Printed House, Burbank, California

Located on a small section of the Woodbury University Campus in Burbank, there stands a tangible representation of the future of homebuilding.

A 425-square-foot dwelling, designed by students studying architecture at Woodbury, is the first 3D printed structure to be approved and constructed in Los Angeles. The entire process, from its conception to its present form, was completed within a mere 15 months. According to ABC7, the Burbank house was completed in the fall of 2023.

This house was initially submitted for the solar decathlon, a collegiate competition that encourages designers to create high-performance architectural marvels powered by renewable energy. The students involved took great pride in their achievement.

The house features a recirculation system for shower water, which is used for flushing the toilet. Additionally, the design incorporates a curved form and slanted roof to optimize solar power generation, and mineral wool insulation acts as a fire-resistant barrier.

In addition, waste products played a significant role in the house’s construction. The Woodbury students made the dining table and dining chairs out of recyclable paper.

top 5 garbage houses

Source: dw.com

4) Plastic Bottle Village, Bocas Del Toro, Panama

Located on the beautiful island of Bocas Del Toro, the Plastic Bottle Village is a community of eco-homes and structures made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

The dream was conceived by Robert Bezeau, a Canadian entrepreneur who moved to Panama in 2009 and fell in love with the country. Upon discovering that plastic waste was an epidemic problem in the area, Bezeau came up with the creative idea of using this plastic problem to his advantage by employing locals, creating jobs, and reusing waste materials.

The Plastic Bottle Village boasts around 300,000 upcycled plastic bottles in its construction. These bottles are filled with sand, compacted, and then bound together with wire mesh. The result is a cost-effective building material that is both durable and structurally sound.

To ensure the safety and longevity of the buildings, Bezeau enlisted local engineers and architects to assist with the construction and the latest technology for waste management.

But it’s not just the buildings that are made from recycled materials. The furniture and decor in these eco-homes are also crafted from waste, including scrap metal, driftwood, and even old bicycles. Some houses even feature stained glass windows made from plastic bottles.

Visitors can enjoy a unique eco-tourism experience by spending a night in one of these homes, which serves as an inspiration for sustainable living.

The beauty of the Plastic Bottle Village is that it offers a creative way to reuse plastic waste, which would otherwise end up in landfills and our oceans.

The village is also working to bring schooling opportunities to the area and thus provide a brighter future for young people in the surrounding community.

top 5 garbage houses

Source: jupiter dream

3) Earthship Biotecture, Taos, New Mexico

Earthship Biotecture is based on the principles of passive solar, thermal mass, and natural ventilation, which are the core principles of sustainable living.

Earthship Biotecture was first developed in the late 1960s by architect Michael Reynolds. He was inspired by the concept of using recycled materials such as discarded tires, glass bottles, and aluminum cans to build homes that are affordable, self-sufficient, and altogether sustainable.

The use of tires as the primary building material in Earthship Biotecture harks back to the principle of passive solar, which enables the tires to collect, store, and distribute thermal energy over an extended period of time.

The structure of Earthship Biotecture is unique, and it has various layers that cater to different needs. Its walls are made of tightly-packed tires, which are then filled with soil to create a thermal mass. This ensures that the temperature indoors stays constant and comfortable throughout the year.

The glass bottles are integrated into the walls, adding a pop of color and creating beautiful patterns. The rainwater harvesting system and the greywater treatment plant make the structure self-sufficient in terms of water needs.

Furthermore, aluminum cans are used as wall partitions and play a crucial role in the thermal insulation of the structure.

All these materials are bought secondhand or collected locally. This makes the entire Earthship Biotecture project a sustainable and eco-friendly solution.

top 5 garbage houses

Source: twitter.com, @VisitHouston

2) The Beer Can House, Houston, Texas

John Milkovisch was an ardent beer drinker who lived in Houston’s Heights neighborhood.

Instead of tossing his used beer cans in the bin, he kept them. Eventually, his beer can collection took over his whole backyard. Milkovisch found that these cans could be put to creative use in a home decoration project he started in the ’60s.

With the help of his wife, Mary, the retired upholsterer and seat cover designer created the Beer Can House, a DIY building made entirely from empty beer cans, bottles, and other recycled and salvaged materials.

The Beer Can House is a masterpiece of recycling and reuse. The walls, floors, ceilings, curtains, and even the furniture are made entirely from bottle caps and empty cans of various colors.

It took Milkovisch nearly two decades to complete this extraordinary project. Milkovisch dedicate the house to his wife, who once said to him that he’d been drinking his life away.

The house’s artistic touches include the elaborate floral designs in the metal fence, the shiny aluminum windmill, and the can-covered Cadillac in the garage.

The Beer Can House is not just an art installation but also an educational space that teaches locals and visitors about the importance of recycling and reusing waste materials. In this house, every inch of recycled material serves a functional purpose, from the beer can tab light fixtures to the beer can siding and the elaborate mosaic murals made entirely from glass bottles.

The house’s bright colors make a striking contrast with the traditional houses nearby.

Today, the Beer Can House is a famous Houston landmark, attracting thousands of visitors each year. The house has been meticulously restored by a preservation team to ensure that it remains open to visitors and withstands environmental factors such as temperature and humidity.

The Beer Can House has won numerous awards, including the Houston Art League’s “Art Car of the Year.”

top 5 garbage houses

Source: Dennie Marks

1) The Paper House, Rockport, Massachusetts

As the oldest house on our list, we had to give the Paper House in Rockport, Massachusetts, the title of the best garbage house in the world.

The story of the Paper House begins in 1922 when Elis Stenman, an engineer and entrepreneur living in Rockport, designed and built his dream home. However, instead of building his house using conventional materials like wood or brick, he decided to use his favorite newspaper as the primary building material.

Stenman spent over 20 years building his home, adding layers of newspaper, kites, and wallpaper to the structure. He even used newspaper cones to make radiators and lamps for his home.

While building the Paper House, Stenman used waste materials from his local community to build his furniture and home decor. For example, he made a grandfather clock using egg cartons, and a woven rug out of onion skins. These recycled projects were not only eco-friendly but also added a rustic character to his home.

Today, the house has over 30 rooms. Almost every item in the house is made of newspaper, including the staircase and toilet bowl.

The architectural design of the house is simple yet impressive. The layers of newspaper give the house a texture that is similar to bricks, and the varnish keeps the house dry and sturdy. Even the windows of the house are made using layers of waxed newspaper, which allows natural light to enter but keeps heat and cold out.

The durability of the house is thanks to Elis Stenman’s engineering background and his use of simple yet effective building techniques.

Today, visitors from all over the world come to see this unique and sustainable house in Rockport, Massachusetts. The Paper House is not only a testament to the imaginative mind of Elis Stenman but also a visual representation of how waste materials can be reused to create something beautiful.