5 Reasons We Love Earthbags

Back in 2012, our co-founder Jamie sought to build a school in Malawi using conventional western building techniques. After lots of research, he soon discovered that this would prove too costly. It was then that he came across the earthbag building system.

The earthbag building system uses earthbags- polypropylene bags filled with soil- that are then stacked one on top of the other to build stable walls. The earthbag system squarely addresses the ‘triple bottom line’, because it is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. Earthbag building is essentially low impact and low cost and fosters the creation of employment.

1. Easy to learn and user friendly

The Earthbag system can be mastered by unskilled people and communities in a very short amount of time, with minimal supervision. This means that local job creation is a major benefit, with projects often employing women as well as men. In communities where women often face the burden of work, this is a fantastic benefit!

2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 

With Earthbag building, the use of resources is highly reduced. The Earthbags themselves can easily be reused locally or emptied and used elsewhere, and the materials are all recyclable. (They are also pretty good for sack races!)

3. Cost

Earthbags can be filled with a variety of materials that can be obtained from the site itself, often available at no cost. This dramatically reduces fossil fuel use and transport costs to the site. It also means environmental damage from quarrying is eliminated.

4. Strength

Earthbag structures are extremely strong, owing to their own thickness and weight. Therefore, earthbag structures are unaffected by high winds or other destructive forces, and should stand for decades, if not centuries.

5. Climate control

Earthbag structures control humidity well since moisture will be absorbed and released from the walls, meaning the interior humidity is maintained at a steady and healthy level. This eliminates the condensation and mould that can occur with concrete and brick walls, reducing the dangers from respiratory conditions such as asthma, pneumonia and TB.

These are just some of the benefits of earthbag building- there are so many more, all of which can be found here.

One of our primary aims as an organisation is to share the Earthbag building technique with as many NGOs, governmental bodies and people as possible. We really do believe in its cost-effectiveness, sustainability and longevity, and we hope we are the first of many Earthbag building charities in Malawi.