For me and my family, living in a Tiny Home is a dream we’re still working toward. My husband and I have our plan laid out: when our kids go to college, we’re going to take the big leap. We knew, however, that we couldn’t (and shouldn’t) wait until then to do everything all at once. So, we decided to take a few smaller steps and integrate the Tiny Home, downsized lifestyle in our humble-sized ranch.
Clothing & Clutter
We (my former self included) underestimate how much room our clothes take up, from the seemingly-necessary closet space that hogs precious square footage to a backed-up laundry room. Society tries to teach us we need the newest, trendiest designer buys to exude individual style and success, but it’s just not true and I’ve come to realize I don’t value that idea.
Rather than starting with my closet, I started with my inbox. I realized I had set myself up for failure by being subscribed to the email lists of all my favorite stores. Last Chance for 50% Off? I must! This Just In: New Apparel. Let me look! In the case of enticing emails from my favorite brands, ignorance is bliss. With the help of this awesome tool, the unsubscribing job was done in no time. No more coming down with a case of FOMO (fear of missing out) every morning. Then, it was time to tackle what I already owned. After stumbling across Courtney Carver’s Project 333, I was both curious and inspired to take the challenge: dress with no more than 33 items (shoes and accessories included) for 3 months. I donated and sold whatever was left over. I now apply this thought process to everything I allow myself to own. If it’s not a favorite, it goes. I no longer save things for special occasions; everything I own is an everyday item. Sentimental memorabilia has surfaced from shoe boxes and replaced trendy decor. I know some Tiny Homers advocate against hanging onto memorabilia, but I’m compromising on that one for now.
While I don’t live in a Tiny Home, I do live in a relatively small ranch. One of the elements of Tiny Homes that I couldn’t wait to steal was their knack for generating breathing room and light through innovative design. I’m lucky enough to have an experienced handyman in the family. The first project was installing floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, which aren’t just for books. Visible storage like this really helps when it comes to deciding what you should keep. We then knocked down the wall that separated our kitchen and living room to create more shared space. Last but not least, we demolished our garage (the place we hid stuff we couldn’t let go of) and replaced it with a small shed for storage. This was the most difficult project, but also the most liberating.
Throughout my journey of applying the Tiny Home lifestyle to my own, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the bigger implications of it all (and the big piles of stuff I got rid of). Everything we buy into is meant to make our lives happier, easier, and more convenient. Appliances, gadgets, you name it. However, they seem to only make us less satisfied, lazy, and impatient. Ever scoff at your smartphone or computer for not being fast enough? I found myself less able to sit and read a book without quickly feeling antsy. I’d hop in the car when I could’ve walked. Not anymore. Essentially, the less “convenience” I own, the happier I am. I notice things more; I’m present. For me, downsizing has cultivated an invaluable sense of mindfulness and patience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Follow Sustainable Thought Leaders
I have found along with the tips I’ve learned, to look to leaders in sustainable livings for more ways to decrease your carbon footprint and live more sustainably. I look to people like Bea Johnson, who cut waste out of her life complete, or Leonardo Dicaprio who wrote a compelling movie about the effect humans have on the environment. Even Brad Pitt has teamed up with sustainable architect William McDonough to build sustainable homes in New Orleans. Not only is the material motivational, but it is fun learning about some of these celebrities off-camera.