Minimalism and Tiny Home Living

I wrote this post in 2018, while living in my off-grid tiny home and building my eco-cabin. Thanks to one of my readers, who expressed interest in this topic. It's a great one!

I think I first heard of minimalism as a movement back around 2012 or so. Immediately, I felt a connection with the concept of owning less and needing less. I remember seeing lots of images online of empty-looking rooms. But what exactly is minimalism?

Here is one definition of minimalism: "Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom" (from www.theminimalists.com). While I like this definition, I prefer to be more specific regarding "what's important" to me: it is our planet.

Therefore, I would call my minimalism "eco-minimalism." I am not motivated to have less just for my own benefit, but from a desire to help our planet and future generations. There's just too much stuff in the world that we don't need. Period.

One simple example of minimalism within my tiny house is my pot rack. Rather than buying an expensive new one, I researched different models and fashioned one out of a piece of metal garbage I found by the side of Montreal Street in Kingston.  I enjoyed the creative process of working with staff at the hardware stores to design the mounting system and make this discarded metal frame into something useful. While many pot racks are rectangular grids, I find that the outside curve of my rack is eye-catching and makes it unique, like my house.

 

As you can see in the photo here, S-hooks hang things up on any part of the rack. I can also store my cutting boards above.

   


Every pot and lid and baking pan in my tiny house hangs conveniently here, along with my flour mill. The rack allows me to make use of otherwise empty space above my solar-powered fridge. I have the satisfaction of saving one piece of garbage from a landfill while I learned some new drilling and design skills that will surely come in handy in my tiny house future. And yes, I saved some $$$ in the process!

 

No more digging in that drawer below the oven for the right sized pot: just reach up and voila!


My entire tiny house is an example of my eco-minimalism: at 8 by 22 feet, it is less than 300 square feet (including my sleeping loft). To live this way, I use less of everything: housing materials, fuel to heat it, electricity to light it up. Less. Less. Less.

Compare my modest square footage to the average square footage of new houses around the world. New houses in the United States and Canada and Australia are about 8 times the size of mine at around 2000 square feet. However, new urban houses in China are much smaller at 646 square feet. Similarly, new houses in Russia average 616 square feet and are just over twice the size of mine. (See Shrink that footprint for more data.) I hope we can learn from these countries where small housing is already the norm. While we have a lot of space in Canada, we clearly could be doing more to promote smaller houses as an ecologically responsible choice.

Eco-minimalism, the idea of choosing less in order to benefit our planet and future generations, is a productive lens through which to view my tiny house adventures. I am sure to return to this theme in future posts. Is there any aspect of my (eco)minimalism that you would like to know more about? I particularly enjoy "powering" my new posts with the interests of my readers.