The hero of Gunsmoke and Mc Cloud has taken to the limit the eco gospel of Reuse, Recycle, Reduce. His architect, maverick MICHAEL REYNOLDS, 44, who earlier built some 50 self-sufficient "Earth Ships" near Taos, N.Mex., says the very durability that causes automobile tires to be an ecological disaster (247 million dumped in 1988) makes them ideal building blocks. In Weaver's pad, 3,000 old tires are packed with dirt, surrounded by more than 200,000 aluminum cans and covered with adobe. The three-foot-thick walls act as a thermal battery. "Dense mass stores temperature," Reynolds explains. "The more dense the mass is, the more temperature it stores." After a year of warming, the walls will hold a constant temperature of about 68°F winter and summer. A south-facing wall of glass (overlooking snowcapped peaks) brings the three-level house up to 70°F. Photovoltaic cells provide juice for lights. In the living room stand 300 square feet of planters for growing vegetables and fruit, irrigated by a system that filters runoff from five baths and a laundry. Says Weaver: "A good planet is hard to find. I'd like to leave it in good shape."
An ecological life has a cod-liver-oil reputation—good for you but gucky. In an 8,500-square-foot, $500,000 home built into a hill near Telluride, Colo., actor DENNIS WEAVER gives living well its best revenge. Everything is run by the sun, including the hot tub and the pump operating the living-room waterfall. The house is not even hooked up to a power line. "You can live in the natural order without giving up convenience," says Weaver, 64, who expects to move into his Rocky Mountain hideaway this month. "This is a house you don't have to take care of—it takes care of you."