Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Tiny Houses and Sustainable Living

jeffs-tiny-house-450x337The tiny house movement is certainly something to take note of for those interested in sustainable lifestyles. Launched into motion by Sarah Susanka’s 1997 book The Not So Big House, which emphasizes quality over size, the transition of people into smaller, more ecologically friendly homes often removed from civilization looks to be happening all over the place, if not all the time.

Only around 1% of home buyers are moving into homes under 1,000 square feet, but for those who are into the idea, there are certainly some tiny pads that make the prospect look very appealing. Take this dream-like glass cabin for instance, built by Nick Olson and Lilah Horwitz in the mountains of West Virginia. Fully embracing the simple lifestyle of tiny house living, Nick and Lilah hand-wash their clothes and use candles for light. It seems like a pinnacle example of the movement, and of sustainable living.

The whole idea of escaping into nature and living off the grid has an undeniable appeal, especially to those like me, who have harbored such dreams since the early days of teen-dom. Reconciling such visions with the human need for companionship is at the heart of the posed conflict, one found in such books as Into the Wild, the true story of Christopher McCandless and his journey into the Alaskan wilderness. But of course, one person can make all the difference in the world, so maybe Nick and Lilah found the sustainably human way to go about it.

With everything being smaller, it makes sense that the environmental impact of a tiny home will follow suit. How natural you want to go with it might be the question. I worry that my interests and internet addiction would stop me from permanently embracing a life without electricity, and I’d take a wild guess that other college students might feel the same way. Perhaps, then, what we can take away from the tiny house movement is the environmental effort and commitment involved, doing our best to apply it to our own living situations, no matter the size or proximity to civilization.

If you’re really into the tiny house idea, there are several links that myself or google can hook you up with. You’re already here, so why not use me instead of that incessantly helpful search monster? The Tiny House Blog will supply you with plenty of inspiration, with photos and profiles of small homes and their inhabitants. The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company looks like the leading manufacturer of tiny houses in America, when you’re getting serious. Or you can try Seattle Tiny Homes, for a more local approach.

So, the burning question…tiny glass cabin or decadent mansion with excess written in flames on the door? This is an environmental blog, so choose wisely…


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