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Why tiny homes are the future of sustainable living

If you ask people what is that one thing they would like to have in their life. For many of them, it would be a place to call a home. Having a house of your own is a dream that many of us have and sometimes making it a reality might be easier said than done. It is not uncommon to see people obsessing over the luxurious homes and villas that are often featured on magazine spreads. That being said, owning a home doesn’t have to be that hard if you be realistic. There are many of us who might not be able to own a brownstone or a comfortable flat right when we are fresh into the job market or even several years into our jobs.

Tiny house in wood

Family responsibilities and student loans are just some of the problems that can make this dream harder to achieve. However, this does not mean that you give up on the dream. Studio flats or one-room homes are fast gaining traction among millennials because of how affordable they can be. In a world, where real estate prices are skyrocketing and the property is scarce, a tiny house can be the solution to your problem.

Moreover, these homes also promote sustainable living. You might not always need a five-bedroom house to fulfill the needs of a family of four or three. Apart from being money-saving, these homes allow you to channelize your money more productively.  Considered to be an atypical choice for struggling artists and painters, one-bedroom apartments or studio flats are now considered to be prime examples of how modern architecture, which combines sustainability and functionality with design. They are known by different names like studio apartments, condos or bedsitters across the world.

They usually have 10×10 floor to floor height and are spread across around 300 square feet. Most of these apartments sport minimal furniture while capitalizing on flexible storage and multi-purpose fixtures like countertops which double up as concrete floor as well as space for entertainment and work. Each of these units has space for living, dining and sleeping apart from a kitchen and a bath. Some of these apartments also offer extra space as a small balcony or patio. Features like aluminum windows, composite stone counters for kitchen and stylish textures in modern colours give these flats a unique look.

By living in a smaller house, you can also reduce your carbon footprint. Maria Saxton, a research scholar from Virginia Tech conducted a study on ecological footprints. She surveyed 80 tiny homes for her research and concluded that owners of these houses were able to cut down their carbon footprint by 45% on an average. The logic is simple to see. If you live in a smaller home, you tend to use fewer resources, consume lesser food and generate lesser waste than in a scenario where you had been living in a bigger house. The study also pointed out that people living in smaller homes generate around 5,500 pounds lesser amount of carbon dioxide than an average home.

If you want to own a house which runs on renewable resources, there are several ways to do that and thereby reduce your carbon footprint.

  1. You can cut down on your fuel consumption by dividing your transportation between different means. For instance, you can allot a specific number of hours per week when you will walk, or take a bus or carpool with your friend to work. Alternatively, you can set achievable goals of using public transport or walk to anywhere within two miles away from home.
  2. While buying consumer appliances or equipment check for their energy efficiency and reduce the purchase of energy-intensive products. For instance, if you are buying a car, go for hybrid models or electric cars.
  3. Try embracing a minimalist lifestyle and give up items you don’t use. Start out by renting furniture or buying them in thrift stores.
  4. Reduced usage of items will automatically reduce the resources used in disposing of waste and thereby decrease your carbon footprint.
  5. Other ways by which you can make your house more energy-efficient is to get regular energy audits done, switch to LED bulbs, do your laundry in cold water and hang them out to dry. Another way to reduce the carbon footprint of your lifestyle is to organic and locally-grown food and minimizing food waste.

While there are various benefits linked with tiny houses, there are some disadvantages too. For instance, tiny homes aren’t always ideal for families with three or more kids. As children grow, so do their requirements. With the amount of space limited in the house, the physical development of children is also affected. Even for disabled adults, tiny homes are rarely accessible, unless one gets them customized.

While tiny homes have always been around, they started becoming increasingly popular in the 1970s after a man named Allan Wexler explored the idea of how people can live comfortably in compact spaces. The movement gained traction after writers Bob Easton and Loyd Kahn advocated tiny homes in their 1973 book ‘Shelter’. Lester Walker and Henry David Thoreau were other authors who have written and advocated for more compact living spaces. In the 1990s, the tiny home movement got a boost with artist Andrea Zittel using the trend as an inspiration for her work. In the 2000s, companies like Four Lights Tiny House and Tumbleweed Tiny House further popularised the idea.

The tiny house movement was received very well by middle-class consumers as it not only focused on financial prudence but was economically wise and promoted community experiences, Moreover, people saw the movement as a deviation from consumerism-driven real estate deals.

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