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GARBAGE WARRIOR

Empty beer cans, abandoned tires, used plastic and glass bottles are just some of the recyclable materials that become the bricks and mortar of renegade architect Michael Reynolds’ energy-independent, eco-friendly homes known as Earthships. In a race against global warming, he has experimented passionately with radically sustainable architecture for over 35 years and has devoted his life to advancing the art of building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony.

The inspiring documentary film Garbage Warrior, available exclusively in January and February from the Earth Cinema Circle, details Reynolds’ mission to save our planet earth with his revolutionary Earthship Biotecture which causes no conflict, no stress, no depletion and no trauma to the planet earth. A trained and licensed architect, Reynolds said he realized, “Traditional architecture is useless and has nothing to do with the planet or people and the profession of architecture was not addressing the issues we are faced with.”

Decades before we even pondered the idea of sustainable living, Reynolds was testing the concept with “beer can brick” and wind powered homes in the New Mexico desert. Colored glass beer and soda bottles became stained glass windows and he soon discovered that dirt impacted tires made great insulation. Reynolds has taken green building to the extreme by creating homes that feature:

• Thermal mass construction

• Active solar and wind systems

• Rainwater catchments and “water harvesting” systems

• Natural and recycled building materials

• Contained sewage treatment

• Green-house technology for growing your own food indoors.

Reynolds believes that progress evolves through making mistakes. For example, in the beginning he oriented windows to the South but in one case it was too much exposure and the sun melted a typewriter. Most of his homes were built by trial and error. Publicity for his first community site attracted devotees that ultimately became his “crew.” This green guru subsequently divided his land to develop and share community without even making a dime. Unfortunately local officials in Taos did not share Reynolds’ vision. His experimental Earthship structures defied New Mexico state subdivision codes and his community test-sites were shut down. Not only was his dream taken away from him but he was also forced to surrender his state architecture license. He acknowledges that he was twisting the law to get sustainable housing out there. However, he exclaims, “We are running out of oil and water, our population is growing, we don’t have time, and we need to be doing something now”!

Frustrated by antiquated legislation, he lobbied for the right to create sustainable living test sites. After filibustering by the State Legislature initially killed his bill, Reynolds and his crew seized the opportunity to lend their pioneering skills to those who needed it most; victims of the 2004 Tsunami that devastated Indonesia and parts of Asia. They showed local engineers and contractors in the Little Andaman Islands in the Bengal Bay (India) how to build an Earthship using garbage and debris from the Tsunami wreckage and how to harvest clean water from the monsoon rains.

During filming in India, Reynolds unknowingly made this prophetic statement on camera, “A disaster has to happen to start the rest of the world preparing and sometimes it is too late.” Just months later, Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans. Today, Global Green offers green housing for its victims and even celebrity actor Brad Pitt has launched his own regeneration project MAKE IT RIGHT for hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, recently unveiling designs for a range of eco-friendly and flood-proof homes.

In February of 2006, Reynolds reintroduced his bill and his second attempt failed. One month later, Hurricane Rita hit Mexico. Mike and his crew built an Earthship for hurricane victims there. In the meantime, the U.S. Board of Architects learned of his work for the Tsunami victims and invited him to reapply for his license. Finally, in March 2007, Reynolds’ test site was finally approved by the state legislature.

Garbage Warrior triumphantly tracks Reynolds’ heroic journey. Through all of his trials and tribulations, the film reminds us that one person can make a difference. With global warming now a reality, there is a real and present threat to our future for generations to come. Reynolds’ vision offers a viable solution to lessen our carbon footprint and ecological impact.

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