Rebecca Lowery '15 spent last June filling tires with dirt and spreading adobe while an intern for Earthship Biotecture, a company that builds sustainable houses out of recycled materials.
Earthship houses are designed to function completely off the grid with solar panels providing electricity and water catchment and recycling systems for water carefully positioned and designed so that they do not require climate control.
"I wanted to do this internship," Lowery said, "because I didn't believe that these houses could really function entirely off the grid."
After spending a month in Taos, N.M., helping build several Earthship houses, Lowery is now convinced that the buildings work. In fact, the experience has inspired Lowery to attempt sustainable building techniques in her own backyard. With a bench out of recycled tires and adobe already under her belt (pictured at right), she is now constructing a screen house around the bench with plans to install a water catchment system to water a garden of plants native to Texas.
According to Lowery, a philosophy major pursuing a concentration in environmental science, studying environmental science has helped ground her in the natural world and balance out the intellectual focus of philosophy.
"I think environmental science and philosophy complement each other," she said. "The only difference is that one of them revolves around working with the physical world, and the other revolves around thinking about the physical world (among other things)."
Lowery plans to continue volunteering for Earthship Biotecture; she is particularly enthusiastic about the company's non-profit operation, which builds Earthship houses in Third World countries.