Let's Talk Trash: Are tiny homes green?

Many of us have fantasized at one time or another about downsizing our homes and simplifying, often when we’re in the middle of a big house clean or paying a stack of bills. But are tiny homes easier on the wallet or planet?

As with most things in life, it depends.

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According to BC Tiny House Collective co-founder Anastasia Koutalianos, tiny homes are under 500 square feet, permanent dwellings and have amenities for washing, sleeping and eating. All other details are negotiable, thus the grey areas regarding price and sustainability.

What is irrefutable is that a small home has a small foundation, as many are built on wheels or the equivalent. Also clear is the fact that fewer resources are required to put the home together. These lend to thinking that tiny houses are “green,” but where the greening really comes into play is in the details of building materials and how efficient heat and electrical systems are.

A recent contest in Vancouver saw the building of a tiny house entirely out of new materials reclaimed from landfills for free. While this took relationship building with operators to acquire, it speaks to opportunities out there to access high quality, affordable materials that would otherwise be ending up buried in the ground.

Other excellent sources for repurposed materials include a friend’s garage or basement, social media groups and secondhand building supply stores.

When it comes to minimizing costs, repurposing is key, as going fully “green” with all the latest bells and whistles can become pricey.

Koutalianos suggests there is a cap where the return on investment is too minimal to make sense. Nevertheless, tiny homes are not soon to be a thing of the past.
In fact, Vancouver has just released its three-year housing strategy to address housing insecurity and it includes mention of tiny homes.

To learn more about tiny homes, check out bctinyhousecollective.com.

Let’s Talk Trash is Powell River Regional District’s waste-management education program.

Copyright © 2018 Powell River Peak

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