Sustainability in Action: The Small House Movement

Posted on Jul 31 2013 - 10:36pm by Garret Stembridge

It’s no secret that consuming tons of stuff isn’t a sustainable way for us all to live on this planet. Yet Americans tend to fill up their houses and garages with piles of things they may not need, and then rent storage units for the overflow.

All that stuff takes energy to create and transport and has to go somewhere when it’s discarded. And the bigger and bigger houses, garages, and storage facilities we use to keep all of it take their tolls on the environment as well.

A new movement is emerging in response to this ever-expanding appetite for stuff and the space to put it. It’s called the small house movement, and what its proponents advocate is as straightforward as its name.

“There are those who have found that having all that stuff doesn’t necessarily lead to greater happiness,” writes Kent Griswold on the Tiny House Blog. “There’s a new movement afoot that says enough is enough.”

Photo via Tumbleweed Houses

Photo via Tumbleweed Houses

Small houses, writes Griswold, “use a lot less energy, which is good for both your wallet and the planet.” In fact, small houses can easily incorporate green building principles, including solar energy, to reduce their already small carbon footprints.

Tiny houses don’t have to be exotic, although they can be. This shingled dome and this floating teepee are definitely not the norm. More typical is this little one-room wonder on a pair of wheels, and these itty-bitty cabins.


Photo via DomeSpace

This trend is garnering enough interest that there is now a magazine entirely dedicated to tiny houses. And while not everyone will want to—or even be able to—fit their lives into such a small space, there is a useful lesson here about how to downshift and live more sustainably.

Photo via Tiny House Magazine

Photo via Tiny House Magazine

Whether you’re ready to give up your McMansion in favor of a storybook cottage or you simply want to learn to consume less stuff, this new enthusiasm for small houses has something to teach. A whole lot of people are becoming convinced about the benefits of living with less. Do you think you’ll find inspiration here too?