Building An Earthship In Darfield, B.C.

We are a family of five living in Darfield, BC.
Our house is six hundred square feet in total and we are feeling cramped.

We have decided to build an earthship!

So starts the adventure ...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cardboard Scavanging

Today we spent the day in Kamloops tending to errands, grocery shopping and some materials shopping for the house. We needed to get the material to pour small concrete "half blocks" for infilling in the tires. Chris will probably elaborate on that later.

Our other mission was to round up more cardboard, which is used on the second round and every subsequent round, to prevent the dirt from falling to the round below. Essentially we need a large "plug" for each tire. I had already made the round of our local stores in Barriere.

I wasn't prepared to be stunned by our cardboard search in Kamloops. Much like our first foray into tire gathering, I hadn't realized how much cardboard there is in our consumer lives! We first went to The Future Shop, figuring that a large appliance store would have big pieces. The appliance salesperson gamely disappeared into the back room and came back, somewhat apologetically, with 5 or 6 medium sized boxes. Apparently the stack of cardboard had just been "crushed". I asked him what day would be best to come and when did they "crush" their stack? Apparently any time somebody walked by and felt like compacting it.

I didn't really clue in yet but after I pulled up to the shipping bay of Sears and sent Chris in, only to see him come out shaking his head, we started our education. Chris told me that he and another gentleman were both after cardboard but they could hear the crusher start up as they approached the door. No go at Sears.

Next we pulled up to the Bay and Chris waited for a bit while an employee loaded a patio table into somebody's truck. I watched the fellow shake his head at Chris. After he got into the car I was beginning to think that these crushers must be hydraulic and make a lot of really cool noise, if they were crushing so often!

Next we went to Home Depot. I'm going to digress. We humans have a really fine tuned ability to select the information that is important to us. Despite having been at the Home Depot many times, as well as other large stores, I couldn't think where each store's shipping department would be. Some were so obvious it was amazing I didn't notice them before! But I guess when one's mind is on its target (the product to purchase) one does not think of the input/output part of the equation.

At Home Depot Chris came out with another 4 or 5 decent sized boxes. Then to my least favourite store, Wal-Mart (blech). I wish I'd had a camera. Lined up in their shipping lane were about 20 pallets with the crushed cardboard waiting for removal. These "crushers" do a really compact job. While Chris was in trying to wheedle some cardboard out of them, I was trying to decide if taking a whole bale of cardboard on our trailer on a subsequent visit would yield enough of the stiffer cardboard to make it worthwhile. Still not sure.

No luck at Wal-Mart, although Chris did ask how they handled their waste cardboard. At Wal-Mart, they distribute grey bins (we've all seen them!) around the store and as they fill they get wheeled to the back and immediately crushed. So our window of opportunity is pretty small.

Off to Superstore for grocery shopping but first to the shipping department for cardboard. Here, their policy is not to give cardboard to ANYBODY (???)

Once we'd packed in groceries and lamb feed, we were pretty full so we headed home.

On the return trip I was comparing our tire hunt to our cardboard hunt. Each waste material was waaaayyy more plentiful than even I imagined...AND even with cardboard it felt like showing up right after the tire recyclers had visited our suppliers!

Sean and Anna stayed behind and slogged away at tire pounding (in between downpours). They WANTED to; we're not slave drivers! We left them with some cardboard, which we had been finding blew out the bottom once it got water soaked (remember we were damping our dirt to help fill the tires). We also left some old lumber wrap so they could try lining the cardboard to prevent sogginess. I had also suggested some of our old advertising signs, which were on core-plast, a plastic version of cardboard. The core-plast was a winner! Unfortunately we don't have enough to do a whole house! My next project is to call around to the sign makers and see if they have any used core-plast they want us to take off their hands.

Coming up soon: Pictures of how we fill tires now that we are using the tire "press" and an updated expenses posting now that we picked up material to pour a little concrete. This expenses exercise is very good for us. It forces us to organize our receipts which is necessary when we complete the house. In Canada when you build a new home that is your primary residence, you can claim back all your GST, which is a 5 percent tax.


David with the small earthship in MI said...

Here in the US state of Michigan many places have dumpsters specifically for cardboard. When I was searching for cardboard for my earthship I found the best places were not the big stores. They often have compactors as you've found. There was a tiny grocery/salvage goods store in my village that let me take all the cardboard I wanted from their dumpster for it. As I used a lot of cardboard in part of my experimental strawbale insulation "technique" I had to find more. What turned out to be the mother load of cardboard was a local "Family Dollar" store and a sporting goods store. The dollar store had 2 dumpsters of it and the sporting goods had only one, but theirs was mostly bigger boxes.

I'd suggest looking at places that do a decent volume of business but aren't so big they'd have a compactor.

Sandra said...

Our local pharmacy has been our best source. They don't have a compactor and I know many of the employees quite well (high school friends and my kids friends' moms!) so they even help me load! So you're right, local is better!