Phillips has always wanted to build homes. About 12 years ago, he and his wife, Marsha, took out a home equity loan on their Huntsville, Texas, home in order to fund The Phoenix Commotion, a company dedicated to using building materials that would otherwise end up in landfills to build low-income housing. "The design of the houses grows out of the material that we have," Phillips says. "Rather [than] premeditating and buying new, we use whatever we have, and that becomes the design of the house."
Phillips makes sure that each new homeowner assists in constructing their eco-friendly home. "They know how to repair their houses because they participate in building them," he says. "Once you've launched a family into a house, the self-esteem of the entire family rises because they're full vested in the mainstream economic structure of humanity."
Phillips' goal? To be more responsible and more sustainable. "We can all lift a finger in trying to heal our planet in our own backyard," he says. "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."
Phillips doesn't describe himself as a "tree-hugger." Instead, he sees himself as someone who's trying to spread the message about the importance of being green at home. "I'm not doing anything new," Phillips says. "Every third-world country, that's how they build their houses—they use whatever's around." Get Phillips' environmentally friendly tips to spruce up your décor.