The House That Junk Built

The witch from Hansel and Gretel built her house out of gingerbread. The old woman of lore built her house out of a giant shoe. Fairy tales suggest anything is possible when it comes to story book house construction, so it’s somewhat surprising that society has only recently decided to use refurbished and recycled materials on a large scale in real life.

A major earthquake that rattled Christchurch, New Zealand last spring significantly damaged a longstanding cathedral. Its temporary replacement consists of an effective and sustainable structure of cardboard, corrugated polycarbonate sheets and shipping containers, designed by Japanese architecture firm Shigeru Ban. This is not your traditional childhood playhouse made of boxes—it’s completely waterproof, fireproof, and, if necessary, can be used regularly for up to 20 years.

There are also others setting out to change public opinion on residential housing construction. In Huntsville, Texas, a man named Dan Phillips recycles scrap materials and creates custom homes that are cost-efficient to build and maintain, which is ideal for low-income residents. He uses only donated and found materials and employs apprentice labor.

Dan Phillips built the roof of this fantastic tree house out of recycled frame samples

“We can all lift a finger in trying to heal our planet in our own backyard,” Dan told “What that means is downsizing our houses, paying a little more attention to energy efficiency, repairing and reusing rather than buying new and throwing away.”

Junk is to some as treasure is to others. Recycle and reuse when you can. And when you can’t, a friendly 1-800-GOT-JUNK? team member can pick it up for you and send it on the right track.

Oh, and those story book houses I was talking about? Dan Phillips has built one—scroll back up to the top and take another look at the picture!

If you could build your dream house out of any material, what would you use and why?




Sam Landa is PR Manager for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. She has a bachelor’s degree in Environment & Sustainability and is always interested in learning about ways to make the world a greener place. In her spare time she enjoys playing live music and writing. Connect with Sam on  or LinkedIn.

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