Go Tiny or Go Home

Downsized lifestyle a green proposition

By Hilary Berg

The tiny house movement is more than just an economic decision or matter of downsizing; it is an incredibly green idea.

As America grows older, our houses are expanding — along with many of our waistlines. The average home in the U.S. is now more than 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973.

New homes — according to first quarter 2015 data from the Census Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design, and National Association of Home Builders analysis — are averaging about 2,700 square feet.

At this size — actually, slightly smaller at 2,500 square feet — our houses create approximately 28,000 pounds of CO2 per year by way of electricity, plus heating and cooling. Now compare that to a “tiny” house at 186 square feet, producing about only 286 pounds.

That is a huge decline in numbers and, of course, square footage.

I realize that 99.9 percent of you reading this are never going to voluntarily live in so small a space, but more and more people are doing it and in style, too.

You can test-drive the lifestyle via vacationing in these bitty buildings — and vintage trailers. In fact, people are seeking them out as destinations and planning the rest of the trip accordingly (see cover story on page 36).

I realize that most people already vacation in smaller spaces — hotel rooms, cabins, tents, etc. — but this tiny trend is different. It is a chance to demonstrate a new way of living, inspiring reflection on their own houses and efficiency back home.

It’s also an opportunity to spend more time outside. What could be more green?

Just like a house requires upkeep, so does our earth. Surround yourself with nature, and she will let you know her honey-do list.

At the top of her requests is the reduction of greenhouse gases. Trade in your McMansion for a bite-sized version, and you can check that one off immediately.

If that doesn’t motivate you, then perhaps the prediction that Oregon will one day, sooner than later, become unsuitable for cool-climate Pinot Noir should the planet continue to warm at its current rate.

Now, are you ready to downsize? I thought so.

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