Green Benefits: The Environmental Impact of Tiny Houses
It stands to reason that the smaller your home, the smaller your environmental footprint. Numerous studies have highlighted just how much of an impact living in a tiny home has, and why so many people are making the change. Whether you opt for an A-frame house or you live in a converted container or shed, you can make a major difference.
Ready to shrink your carbon footprint? Find out how living in a tiny house can lower your environmental impact.
Shrink Emissions (And Costs!) When Building
Building a tiny house (as opposed to a regular-sized house) allows you to reduce your carbon footprint while saving on building costs. One of the more obvious reasons for that is simply that tiny houses are smaller and thus require much fewer materials. Whatever material you’re planning to build with, you’ll need far less of it.
As an example, consider that you are using wood. An ordinary wooden house would require multiple truckloads of lumber, while a tiny house only needs about half a truckload. This means not only fewer trees get cut down but also less fuel for transportation.
Building a tiny house also presents the opportunity to use more sustainable materials. It’s not feasible or affordable for the average person to use recycled or sustainably sourced building materials to build a larger house. But if you’re opting for a tiny house, they are much more accessible. And with all the money you’re saving on quantity and labor, you have the opportunity to be a little more selective when choosing planet-smart materials.
While sustainable building is a crucial benefit of tiny houses, the most significant savings kick in once you’ve built your tiny house and are living in it. The average family home uses a significant amount of energy every day for heating, cooling, lights, and appliances.
According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2020, the average amount of electricity used by a single U.S. household was 10,715 kilowatt hours. In contrast, a tiny house measuring 186 square feet uses less than 1000 kilowatt hours of energy annually. With its smaller square footage, less space to light up, and fewer appliances, a tiny house simply requires far less energy.
The environmental impact is even smaller if you decide to go off-grid. With a few solar panels, you should be able to get enough natural energy from the sun to power your tiny house each day. Unlike fossil fuel-powered electricity, the sun produces zero carbon emissions. If you add features like reclaimed water systems and alcohol stoves, the possibility of becoming completely self-sustaining becomes truly within reach.
Produce Less Waste
In order to have enough space for comfortable living, tiny houses have to get creative about storage and function. But no matter how cleverly designed your tiny house is and how many dual-function spaces you have, there’s no getting away from the fact that a tiny house has less space than a traditional home.
But this does not have to be viewed as a negative. Just by virtue of having less space to fill, a tiny home produces far less waste. When you have limited kitchen counter space and a smaller trash can, you’ll need to be smarter about the food you buy. You will naturally avoid food that comes in lots of plastic packaging, as you’ll need to have adequate storage space for the product and the trash it generates. Plus, you’ll think more carefully about how much food you actually need so that you don’t have to throw any away.
But waste refers to everything that we throw away, not just food and packaging. Having less space also means you’ll think more carefully about what you buy in general. You won’t spend money on a whim on items that will only languish in your cupboard before making their way to a landfill.
Curb Your Consumerism
The impact of consumerism goes beyond just clogging up oceans and landfills. The more stuff we buy, the more raw materials need extracting, the more factories pump out toxic chemicals, and the more CO2 is emitted through transportation. Our current societal obsession with always wanting more is having a serious impact on the environment that sustains us. In the US alone, the volume of clothing consumers have thrown away has doubled in the last two decades from 7 to 14 million tons.
Living in a tiny house will completely change your buying habits. Every time you consider buying something, you’ll stop to think: Do I really need this? Will it significantly improve my quality of life? Will it clutter up my home? Instead of spontaneous purchases, you end up regretting or forgetting, you’ll only buy things you really need or care about.
You’ll also become a more environmentally conscious consumer when kitting out your home with essentials. Everything from the pots you cook with to the type of mattress you sleep on needs careful attention, as you have limited space. Looking for eco-friendly, long-lasting options will soon become second nature.
Change Habits For The Better
So far, we’ve explained several environmental benefits that come from living in a tiny house. However, the green impact of such a radical change in lifestyle goes way beyond a checklist of benefits. As you scale back your buying habits and experience a simpler way of life, you’re likely to notice major shifts in your way of thinking.
Ideas of living in harmony with nature and gaining a richer life through less will become realities rather than unattainable ideals. Living sustainably won’t just be something to struggle towards, but a part of your everyday lifestyle.
On top of that, tiny houses promote greener living by virtue of being an example to others. As friends and family witness your tiny house journey, they will notice the benefits it brings you. The choices you make to live sustainably will certainly impact others, even if they don’t end up building their own tiny houses.
Whether it is choosing to consume less, investing in solar panels, or living in a smaller space, your tiny house lifestyle will inspire those around you to make more earth-friendly choices. All it takes is a seed for change to grow!
WRITTEN BY MARGOT MORA
Margot is a content champion for a variety of online publications. She often covers topics that cater to business owners and entrepreneurs with a strong focus on legal finances, business management, and a few other topics.