Searching out recycled materials is quite simple.

The most important thing is to have a picture in your mind of how the “ship” will look when it is complete. It doesn’t have to be a ‘set in bronze’ picture but a concept of how you would like to live, and what you are prepared to do to make it happen.

Armed with this picture and a desire to find materials, up goes your ‘antenna’, and the materials simply start to appear.



The ‘antenna’ is your RAS (Reticular Activation System).

The RAS is one of the most ‘difficult to conceive’ parts of our brain.

This tiny portion of the human brain makes sense of all the sensorial information we are continuously bombarded with.


At any given time during your daily activities, your mind is bombarded with millions of ‘bits’ of sensorial stimulations from the physical environment where you are. Sounds, smells, tastes, sights, and feelings are continuously being downloaded into your system. Your mind needs a way to filter that information for relevance, in order to avoid overloading and crashing. This filter is the RAS.

All the information you need about recycled materials is already bombarding your brain but it will be discarded as irrelevant trash, Until It Becomes Your Desired Focus. Then, ‘Bingo’, it all simply appears.

Some examples in my search: 

1.    Recycled Glass:

One of our Sponsors, Core Principles Studio, were having a refit of the studio. I was there and overheard the mirror glazier, Phil Payne, saying his van was half full of glass that was going to be dumped. Normally this would not even be heard, but as glass was needed for the atrium, it was as if Phil was shouting this to me.

As a result of subsequent discussions, I have been fortunate enough to pick up around 150m2 of laminated safety glass. Some was to be dumped (Free) the rest was new glass that had been ordered incorrectly and was not useable in the planned job (purchased at a fraction of cost).


  • I have all the glass I need for the atrium and aquariums.
  • Price of recycled glass $1050, compared to around $10,000 for new glass
  • The sand mining for the glass was eliminated
  • The CO2 emissions from mining and manufacturing the new glass have been avoided.


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Some of the recycled glass

2.    Recycled Insulation:

I was having a blood test done at ‘Clinpath’, and was chatting to the nurse about building an EarthShip. “What is an EarthShip?” she asked, and as simply as I could I told here. (see FAQs) It turns out that Clinpath have a large amount of used polystyrene boxes they need get rid of on a continuous basis. (see Support Team Lesley Friedrich).

These boxes are ideal for building the insulation slabs required for efficient working of the Thermal Mass walls of the “Ship”.


  • With this and another source of polystyrene boxes, I have all the material I need to make all the ‘Ship’s’ insulation.
  • Outlay: about $500 in fuel and ‘liquid nails’, versus around $10,000 for new polystyrene sheeting.
  • A valuable resource, LPG, is saved as well as the emissions of CO2 from the manufacture of new insulation material.


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The recycled boxes


A finished Insulation slab.

3.    Rose in on the action – VERY cheap stainless steel drain board and wash tub

I am at home doing some homework, and hear a text arrive on my phone.

Rose has spotted, at a giveaway price, a stainless steel wash trough and drain board at a garage sale.

The text: two photos (at right) & “$25! Do you need it?” 

 “Yes, please” was my immediate reply

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I am not sure if I will use them on the field working area or in the “ship” kitchen (they are certainly good enough quality for either)



  • No trip to the hardware store
  • Cost savings of around $300+ [New price approx $350]
  • Less mining and manufacturing CO2 emissions.



4.    Insulation for the Solar Heater:


While driving close to home, I noticed a roll of ‘sizilation’ in the ‘hard rubbish’ on the side of the road.

“Hmm!” I thought, “Just what I need to insulate the field shower hot water drum.” So into the wagon it went.


  • Saved a trip to Bunnings
  • Cost savings of about $20



5.    Recycled Timber:

I talk EarthShip philosophy with my friends. A close friend mentioned “There is a huge pile of pallets and chipboard up for grabs in front of the New Bunnings at Old Noarlunga.”


  • I have acquired over 40 double pallets and around 45 large sheets of chip board
  • Cost to the project: a few dollars in fuel
  • Value to the project – around $2500
  • Trees are saved, as are the energy and cost of sawing and transporting the timber



A load of chip board ready for transport to site

What is out there for you? Just about everything you need.