Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tiny, sustainable houses gain popularity

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Most of us have too much space and too much stuff, both of which lead to too much responsibility. Think about it: You have to manage your stuff. First, you have to get a good price for it — then you have to find a place for it, care for it, keep it from falling apart, store it and, eventually, dispose of it. Multiply those responsibilities by all of the possessions in your life and you're not going to have much time for anything else other than stuff-management. That's not even counting all of the energy and resources that went into creating, packaging, shipping, storing and selling your stuff before you bought it. It's this type of realization that has helped spur the tiny house movement, where people are building and living in houses smaller than most of the rooms in our houses.

You know what happens when you live in a tiny house? You get rid of your stuff, and buy less stuff going forward. You also begin to realize that life isn't about stuff, and that possessing a lot of stuff is one of the most effective ways to steer you away from your life's purpose. It's also a great way to live for those looking to detach themselves from the grid and live more sustainable lives that are closer and more in-tune with nature.

Because living small is contrary to the way most American's choose to live, the movement is getting a lot of press. Click the links to read articles from the Associated Press, The New York Times, Virginia Living, Better Homes and Gardens and more. If you're interested in learning more, there are several examples of tiny houses in North Carolina, click here, here, here and here for descriptions and pictures. There's even a man in Charlotte, Ryan Mitchell, who's put together a website, "The Tiny Life," that aims to teach people about tiny-house living.

On top of all of the other benefits of tiny living, tiny houses are much cheaper than "normal" houses: Blueprints can often be purchased for a couple hundred dollars — or less — for DIY'ers, or the houses can be built for you for a few thousand; they can even be built out of repurposed cargo containers. Couple that costs-savings with the fact that you won't need much furniture, your utility bills will diminish or vanish, the reality that your home won't require much land ... and you're looking at a significant savings.

But, this movement is about much, much more than money. It's about learning to live more sustainably, about reconnecting with what's important in life.

Check out this video, "Living Like it's 2050: A Transition Farm in North Carolina," which includes a tiny cob house, built out of clay and straw.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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