People. Planet. Profit.

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People. Planet. Profit.

Recycled Homes for Working Poor
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People. Planet. Profit. Recycled Homes for Working Poor...

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - 4:30pm


Imagine that you work hard every day, earning wages to put food on the table, clothes on the kids and paying the rent. But not quite enough to fulfill your dream of having your own home.

Even in this burst housing bubble, the average price of the American home, in the $140,000–$230,000 range, is beyond your slender means. But then there’s Dan Phillips.

Dan is building homes made almost entirely with salvaged and recycled materials, from wine corks for flooring to broken mirrors for decorative pieces to glass plates for windows. He conserves resources in other ways, too. Instead of hiring expensive crews, he hires unskilled labor and helps them build their skills along with the house, right on the job. This includes the future homeowner, who can wind up in a home costing in the $20,000–$50,00 range! This is a no frills home, no dishwashers, Viking stoves or posh features, but it’s well built affordable housing that’s one of a kind with an artistic flair that can only come from building with what you can find. Can’t imagine having a recycled house? Take a look at some of the photos we found on The Greenest Dollar of some of Dan’s work. This is green building that is craftsman like, unique and brilliant.

Dan and his wife Marsha have started an organization called The Phoenix Commotion, to foster his dream of helping others build their dreams.

The mission of The Phoenix Commotion is straightforward: build affordable homes for the working poor using recycled and reclaimed materials. The goal is to 80% recycled material minimum in every home. And the houses are built with unskilled labor. He trains the workers to build homes, which gives them skills to keep on keeping on in life. This makes Dan’s homes affordable, keep material out of landfills, and gives people hope and skills. It’s a people, planet and profit deal.Nothing suffers in the process either. Each home is solid as Gibraltar and built to code.

Their mission statement includes reducing landfill burden, providing low income housing, and training unskilled labor. Talk about a trifecta of waste to resources.

If not for Dan’s work all of this stuff would have ended up in a landfill. Dan will help anyone who has a job, and good credit or no credit.

This video is well worth the 7 minutes to watch it. A story of someone who’s dream of home ownership is made possible by Dan’s work, and some conversation with the man himself.

On the Phoenix Commotion website there is a complete listing of where you can find reusable building material for your own projects, everywhere from flea markets to dumpsites, to the mud, stones and sticks found in nature.

Thanks for the source materials to The Greenest Dollar, and Eco Home Resource.

What can you build from what you can find? is dedicated to our users. We focus our attention on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. We reward our users for their sustainable behaviors on our website, through our Greenopolis Tracking Stations and with curbside recycling programs.


Keywords: Dan Phillips | Green Building | Homes | architecture | building materials | home building