Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thoughts on Smaller/ Simpler Living

Some time just after hurricane Katrina happened a blog I read regularly wrote a post about a company called Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. The thing that interested the blogger at the time, having just been a Katrina survivor and losing just about everything she owned to the storm and flooding, was that some of these houses were small enough that they could be hitched up to a car like a trailer and driven away. The thing that interests me is that people actually live in these tiny houses full time. In fact Jay Shafer, the founder of Tumbleweed, lives in one of the smallest house models coming in right under 100sqft of living space.

I don’t know what it is exactly that I find so attractive about these tiny homes. It could just be a novelty or a cute idea to me, but it could be something else too. I was thinking this morning about it and while I know I could never live in a home as small as Jay does – especially with a dog, two cats, and oh yeah my husband. I think the novelty of it for me comes down to living in just the amount of space you need. Here in the US we’re all about bigger is better, but what happens to all of that space you aren’t living in and using on a regular basis? It ultimately becomes wasted space, a decorated show room that you need to dust and clean but never really use. I’m a pack rat. I always have been. I know a lot of the stuff that I have I may never use again but I still keep it around because hey one day I just may need my high school chemistry notes. Ok, I’m not that extreme, but I know people who are. With such a small amount living space it force me, at least I hope that it would, to minimize what and how I consume.

There are many reasons to down size your living space, including what I mentioned before. Ultimately the largest reason is an environmental one. How effective is it for one person to live in a 2000sqft house with all the trimmings? The same person would likely do just as well in half or less space, but our American imperialist attitude is to conquer the space both with ourselves and the things we own. You don’t see that in Europe, you don’t see that in Asia, heck you don’t see it in Canada, because they tend to take advantage of the space they have not the space they believe they are entitled to. But I digress. Ultimately if we all lived in a smaller amount of space then that would leave more for the natural world, and because we are consuming less to fill these spaces it’s better for us environmentally and economically.

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