Free lifestyles

12 Awesome Homes Built With Recycled Material (Including a Man-Made Tropical Island)

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Did you think sustainable building is boring? Think again. Or wait, let us help you rethink with these 12 amazing houses that are built with trash.

As inspiration for realizing how beautiful other ways of looking at our current way of living are, 12 astoundingly cool houses built from scrap.


house built out of 25000 glass bottles
inspired by a postcard of a glass castle in Vancouver Island, British Columbia


This house built out of 25,000 recycled bottles cemented together is situated in Cap-Egmont, Prince Edward Island, Canada.  Photo by Keith Watson via Flickr.


The Junk Castle by Victor Moore
total costs of this castle, $500


Victor Moore built The “Junk Castle” completely out of scraps and salvaged materials he found on a nearby junkyard. The artist and high school teacher started building the place in 1970 at a total cost of only $500.

The fairy-tale-like structure is situated atop a defunct rock quarry in Washington state. Photo by David Patterson via Inhabitat.


home made of two shipping containers
pretty awesome home huh, wait till you see the interior.


This (not so) tiny home is built with two reclaimed shipping containers and some additional material to create the part that merges the two partially opened up containers to one stunning home.

This eco-friendly small house has a patio deck and is just one of the best container homes we’ve seen so far. Check out TinyHouseTalk for more photos.


using trash to create homes and even self-sufficient islands is the future.


Spiral Island is the name of a floating artificial island built in Mexico by British artist Richart “Rishi” Sowa. Completely build out of plastic bottles inserted in bags.

The island consists of two layers of these bags with soil in between and on top of it. Thus enabling vegetation to grow creating a root system that keeps the island more tightly together.

In 2005 hurricane Emily completely destroyed Spiral island version 1 but Sowa didn’t give up and picked up his project naming the second version Joyxee Island.


Villa for an Aviator
“Villa for an Aviator,” a house built from salvaged airplane parts


Designed by Urban Office Architecture for a retired pilot this villa is created to give its inhabitant the feeling of living in open air. Via GizMag.

totally made from recycled wood, glass, corks, and more
totally made from recycled wood, glass, corks, and more


Dan Phillips has built many houses from trash. Make sure to watch his entertaining and pretty funny TED Talk presentation too.(at the end of this post).

Dan puts it eloquently, “Although it’s a small contribution to nature, hopefully it can have a deep impact on our consciousness to treasure our mother earth.” Take a tour of this beautiful house here.


Earthship homes
stucco walls, the “polka-dots” are the bottoms of old beer bottles embedded into the mud.


Earthships are ultra-sustainable homes built from recycled trash such as bottles, tires, aluminum cans, and other litter. The cans and bottles are filled with soil and then plastered over with natural mud.

Interesting fact, many of these seemingly primitive structures around Taos, Mexico use solar panels or small wind turbines to create renewable electricity. Image credit and more info at Laurel Kallenbach’s blog.


a green earthship
a Hobbit-like earthship


Many earthships have ingenious water recycling systems, solar panels for free energy, and greenhouses for free food. It may come as a surprise to you that some of these 100% sustainable buildings have amenities many traditional buildings not even have.


Lindisfarne UK boat shed
upside down boat shed in Lindisfarne


Not technically a home but this boat turned upside down into a shed makes such an appealing impression. A great example of how simple recycling and approaching waste in a fresh way can be. Image credit: Dave White.


casa de botellas
plastic bottle home
a dream home that only an extremely creative, environment-friendly mind could conjure up. Constructed from thousands of PET plastic bottles, possibly headed for improper disposal, the home created by the Alfredo Santa Cruz family in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, is “a tool for promoting ecological and social responsibility.” The Santa Cruz’s, “successfully designed their portable structures to be a – See more at:
a dream home that only an extremely creative, environment-friendly mind could conjure up. Constructed from thousands of PET plastic bottles, possibly headed for improper disposal, the home created by the Alfredo Santa Cruz family in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, is “a tool for promoting ecological and social responsibility.” The Santa Cruz’s, “successfully designed their portable structures to be a – See more at:


Apart from building a tropical island, plastic PET bottles are very useful for building walls too. This home created by the Alfredo Santa Cruz family in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, consists of thousands of plastic bottles.

According to the building, Casa de Botellas is “a tool for promoting ecological and social responsibility.”  Via Planet Magazine.


Donald Espinoza's castle
Donald Espinoza’s castle in Antonito Colorado


This structure was built using more than 100,000 beer and soda cans, wooden windows, hubcaps, screen doors, bicycle reflectors and more. The creator, Dominic “Cano” Espinosa, a Native American Vietnam vet was inspired by “Vitamin Mary Jane” and Jesus.

Espinoza has spent over 30 years working on what he calls “Jesus’ Castle.” The castle is popularly referred to as Cano’s Castle. More photos here.  Image credit: Motherwit.


recycled pallet house
this house was built for $500


This house is built from recycled pallets and comes with Ikea style assembly instructions. Watch this YouTube video to learn more.


Can’t get enough?

Check this TED presentation by Dan Phillips about Creative houses from reclaimed stuff. The man has built a whole bunch of houses from junk and he’s pretty funny too.

Why building with recylced materials is the way of the future.

Our present economy is cracking. People all over the world realize we have been upsetting nature’s balance on a massive scale. Carbon dioxide levels in the ultra-thin layer around our blue planet we call atmosphere, are still increasing, posing the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.

Hopefully, ecological initiatives and changes in the way we think and act will turn the tide before it’s too late.

People who started building with trash were perceived as crazy a few years ago. Nowadays they are perceived as wise pioneers that are guiding us into the right direction. What do you think?

Dig these houses?

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  • Hi, I was amazed with the above pictures and concept. I want to buy above images for printing table calender. Can you please tell me the procedure and what it will cost if at all.

    • Hi Rajesh, the rights of the photos belong to their respective owners so you would have to contact them in order to get permission.

  • What a neat idea. I could fill it just with what I have to be thankful for. I’m sure your falmiy will have that turkey’s belly bulgeing. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Jerry

  • Good afternoon I want to build a home like this I have wanted to for months but don’t know how or where to start I have an idea two story with balcony and just relaxing like paradise hone bamboo sink hammock upstairs out looking the outside just something to come home to I want to and am going to do this if I could get some helpful tips or ideas on where or how to start I liked the pallet house plan environmental friendly cheap on budget due to income but with time able to accumulate and invet please contact me my email is

    • Hi Brandon, perhaps Phoenix Commotion has more info to help you get started. Or you could check out

  • I would like to know if sir Dan Phillips is considering to mentor an architecture graduate like me. do you have any idea how i can contact sir Dan Phillips? Im very interested in green architecture.

  • Isn’t most of the land governed by building codes?

    Nobody wants to have an expensive home located in an exclusive neighborhood with a view of a house made out of recycled trash next door.

    • there are a few counties and whole states which do not adopt international building codes. There are not harsh snow loads or wind limits and needed insulation in many of these areas. They are mainly in rural remote areas with smaller or no cities nearby. RV Living and hunting cabins are what bring tourism to areas like these and they will not allow the strict regulations IBC to ruin their tourism so our ability to build on our own land without many restrictions stays intact. also very little police forces exist out here and they do not want to police rural building codes when there are more important things like meth going on out here.

  • DON’T SAY THAT THERE AWESOME HOUSE’S. but NO YOU CANNOT HAVE A HOUSE LIKE THAT IN YOU neighborhood you can somewhere a’lls

  • I love the ingenius ways of building houses and yea I think it would be great in a neighborhood like that and anybody who doesnt think that is just jealous that they cant I love to look at them and would love to see more of them for sure

  • I love it and currently building my own upcycled home, i included a link..more updates coming soon. I decided to start the page this morning Oct 17/2015.

  • We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme
    in our community. Your website offered us with helpful information to
    work on. You’ve performed a formidable job and our entire neighborhood can be grateful to you.

  • Hey there,
    I work at a homeless shelter and I am trying to set up a project doing exactly what Mr. Phillips has already done. I want to set up small shack type homes on our open field we have here, using all recycled material. Pluming and electric would not be needed, as we have facilities in our main building. Our homeless population is extremely high for being in such a small town. It actually seems to be a wide spread epidemic. Its time to step up and start helping our own. Any info on what I can do or who I can contact would be great!! Thank you so much for your time!

    small town California

  • Good day,
    I am an African currently living in Africa and i am very passionate about helping my fellow country men and women to obtain decent houses they can call home. I am blown away by these ideas and surely with all these ideas i can come up with an excellent idea for low cost housing. Whom can i contact to help?

    I am looking for a low cost housing concept.

  • I liked this concept but I have one doubt. Will the plastic bottles react with heat when wall gets heat up? Cause if this actually happens over a period of time, the plastic will result into harmful fumes.
    Plz help me with this query as soon as possible. 🙂

    • Good question. As far as I know this isn’t an issue as this practice is applied more and more but to be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps you could contact the Earthship Academy with your concern. They have literally decades of experience with all kinds of salvaged material building techniques. If you haven’t already, also make sure to watch Garbage Warrior as it may be right up your alley.

  • You guys should check out Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens. He was a folk artist from a VERY small town near where I grew up in Georgia. I cant tell if that man was crazy or a genius… OR BOTH, but either way some of his stuff puts me in awe. I don’t know if it is okay that I share a link. If not just go to google and type in Paradise Gardens Summerville GA.

  • What’s up,I check your new stuff named “12 Awesome Homes Built With Recycled Material (Including a Man-Made Tropical Island) – Critical Cactus” like every week.Your story-telling style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing! And you can look our website about proxy server list.

  • I love these ideas. I think the plastic bottle home would be a great idea for a greenhouse. One of my favorites is the tree house and I like the idea of using pallets for a shed or art studio. Thanks for the awesome ideas.