Staff A-Z of Film: G is for… (Pt.2)


LALLY SAYS G IS FOR: Garbage Warrior (2007)

“We’re trying to develop a method of living that allows people to take care of themselves”

Garbage Warrior is a documentary about American architect Michael Reynolds and his quest to evolve his designs for independent, sustainable living. Highly critical of the wasteful nature of his profession, Reynolds began his career experimenting with various technologies including thermal mass construction, wind and solar power, and green house designs. His experiments resulted in the Earthship, a self sustaining house built out of recycled materials such as car tires and beer cans.


“You’ve got to be able to make mistakes otherwise you never evolve”

Filmed over the course of three years, Oliver Hodge’s film introduces us to the architect’s designs and the long standing New Mexico based community who build with him. Reynolds’ 35 year battle with waste, however, was forcefully halted in the early 2000s by the State Planning Department due to the buildings’ unconventional nature and experimental design. Whilst he was caught in a bureaucratic ‘catch 22’ in America, Reynolds and his crew were invited to Indonesia where in the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami their Earthship technology was immediately welcomed and put into practice by the residents of the devastated Andaman Islands.


“If you don’t want to look at the problem, why would you want to come up with a solution”.

Michael Reynolds, ‘warrior’ against waste, had to wade through years worth of paperwork and petitions just to be allowed to experiment with his radical designs on his own land. Ironic, given that in the past New Mexico sacrificed thousands of acres to irradiation experiments for Atomic bomb testing.

Oliver Hodge’s film provides us with an interesting insight into the inner workings of the State legislature, where hidebound attitudes and pitfalls await around every corner. It is not a scaremongering film intent on shocking its audience into action, but rather an inspiring account of how much positive change just one person can make with enough determination.


Garbage Warrior is the story of one man’s passionate and energetic efforts to change the way we treat the world, and to show us that change is not only obviously necessary, but well within our capabilities; the technology is here we just have to examine how we live our lives and act.

Since the release of Garbage Warrior, Reynolds and his crew have continued to evolve their designs and share them all over the world. You can check out his adventures and progress here: