Although I just really like Tiny Houses, and the simple life of living in a small house with little stuff just really appeals to me, and the freedom due to the low cost of living, mobility, time gained because of less maintenance and cleaning… (there are so many good reasons for going Tiny, right?!), one of the main reasons for going Tiny right now is the fact that Tiny living drastically reduces my ecological footprint.
Ok, I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you the importance of that, right? Oh well, let me name just a few of the reasons:
- Wildlife on earth has decreased by half in the last 40 years
- Climate change (need I say more?)
- The growing amount of plastic in the oceans
- The growing amount of toxins in our food, GMO’s, the decrease of biodiversity
To be honest I’m not living in a very ecologically friendly way at the moment. I take my car to work every day, have a washer and dryer, take long showers, use chemical toiletries and turn up the heat whenever I get cold. But all that is about to change, and that’s a conscious decision. For years I have been burying my head in the sand where climate is concerned, until I could no longer ignore all the reports. And once your eyes are opened, you can’t unopen them. So now I want to do things differently! I want to do my part, carry my load and maybe even more than one.
My Tiny House will be off-grid, which means it will not be connected to the electricity grid, water or sewerage. How I’m planning to do that? Like this:
Solar panels on the roof and two or three batteries to store energy during the day for use at night. I don’t know the details yet. I would like to run an energy-saving fridge, LED lights, small kitchen appliances (blender, juicer, crockpot, not all at once obviously ;) ) and my laptop on this. And the toilet ventilator, see further on.
I will have to make do without a washing machine, and am planning to try out this nifty device:
That together with an old-fashioned laundry wringer – blast from the past!
A wood burning stove or pellet stove. I haven’t figured out yet which model best suits a small house like mine, and is also affordable. I only need up to 5kw at the most, and it would be great if the stove keeps on burning for a while so that in winter I don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to light the stove or come home to a freezing house. I’m still researching this, so good advice is welcome.
Cooking and hot water:
A gas burning kitchen stove with oven, and an on-demand water heater running on LPG or propane. I’ve heard there are gas bottles that you can just fill up at the gas station; sounds convenient! The kitchen stove and water heater should be able to run on those.
I’m looking around for a system to collect my rainwater in a tank and then filter it so I can use it to shower, but it will not be used for drinking. I will have to buy water in the store for drinking and cooking, and after all I don’t use that much on my own. The earthship that will be next door to me also has a rainwater collection and filtering system that I can possibly borrow from.
I want a composting toilet. Apparently that works fine, and it doesn’t smell that bad because you separate the liquids from the solids. The liquids end up in a small container that you empty regularly. The solids (that’s right, the poo ;P ) go into a bigger container and you cover it with sawdust or something similar. Every once in a while you empty that container onto the compost heap, and if you add some composting worms to the container the composting will go even faster. The toilet has a built-in ventilator also, to counteract any odours.
I will only use biologically degradable products and toiletries. And yes, that is something. No more hairspray! I’ve already begun making my own multi-purpose cleaner and interior spray from ingredients such as Marseille soap, soda and baking soda. Works just fine! Add a few drops of essential oil for the scent, and all is good and environmentally friendly. I’m discovering the Weleda line of toiletries that is also completely biodegradable. Who knows? Maybe I’ll start making those myself too – definitely not unthinkable. Also, the grey water coming from my Tiny House can be used after filtering to water my plants. I’m thinking of using a simple filter like this one:
Am I forgetting anything? Probably, but this is what I can think of for now. Sounds ambitious, right? But as the Dutch saying goes: you can get used to everything, except maybe a… (guy) :P