I from time to time go over to the local botanical garden and do a little work while sitting among the several acres of greenscape. This company tops that, with having it right there and encouraging its employees to work there.
At a presentation at its Arkansas headquarters, mega-retailer Walmart announced a significant new sustainability goal for its supply chain: Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from the life cycle of its products by 20 million metric tons (22 million US tons) by 2015–a figure roughly equal to the company’s current annual emissions, and about one and a half times the company’s projected carbon footprint growth in the same time period. This is similar to 2.3 million cars worth of pollution.
In doing so it has collaborated with the Environmental Defense Fund, and with ClearCarbon Inc., the Carbon Disclosure Project, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the University of Arkansas’ Applied Sustainability Center to verify GHG reduction claims.
In determining which product categories to focus on first, Walmart SVP of Sustainability Matt Kistler said:
Over the next five years we’re going to be focusing on certain categories, certain businesses where the biggest opportunity exists, where it’s the most efficient, and most cost-effective to remove that greenhouse gas from that supply chain. Whether it be in apparel, whether it be in food, whether it be in home line products, we’re looking at the category of products where there’s great opportunity, but where its at a low cost to remove.
1. Use vertical space
After talking with lots of Tiny House folks, I have seen this as a trend: maximize the vertical. Everything above 8 feet is all dead air if you don’t use it, so capitalize on that. You could have a small chest that takes up 2 square feet of floor space. If it is 4 feet tall, you will have around 8 cubic feet of storage. Take that to the ceiling and suddenly you have doubled or tripled your volume, but haven’t given away any more floor space which is a scarcity in a Tiny House.
2. Everything has a place and is in its place
When working with a small space I know that everything needs a place. Without it, your house goes from quaint to cluttered. Make sure every item you have has its own resting place and be sure that it finds its way back once you’re done using it. One lady who lives in a 90 square foot apartment said to me “if it doesn’t have a place, do you really need it?” and that’s a good point. Things that matter and are used are important enough to demand a place.
3. Double duty on items
There are those items which are by their nature, multi functional. You need to capitalize on these types of items. When you consider an item, you should always think if there is something else that can do it already. A perfect example of this is the end table, which transforms to a chair for extra seating. Check it out here.
4. Purpose built – built ins
Built-ins are nice, but built-ins with a purpose are even better. Think specifics. When paring down your possessions, you will identify the 100 or so items that will be contained in your house. Take stock of those items and let them dictate the form of your storage. If you are a ski patrol member, your closet should be able to fit your skis. If you live in colder climates, you will need more room for larger jackets than others might.
5. Go digital / paperless
As if being greener isn’t motivation enough, going digital, as I call it, means that you are able to reduce the tangible items you need. Digital files take up no space if you have them stored online, with the added advantage of being able to access them from anywhere. Combined with backing the files up, they become safer than real world things. The IRS officially accepts all scanned copies of receipts and bank statements. This extends beyond receipts: books on your Kindle, movies on your Roku, music on OpenTape, or recipes in a wiki.
6. Less is more
At this point I am preaching to the choir but, the question is not how to organize all your stuff, but on how to reduce the stuff to organize. The mentality needed is the same as you had if/when you went to college. The dorm rooms were tiny and you were broke. You only had what you really needed. Studies have shown that more stuff does not lead to happiness, so focus on the important things in life.
7. One thing in, one thing out
One principle that I like to pull from the Zen/Fung Shui school of thought is this. If you want to add a new item, consider adopting the rule that for every item you bring in, you must give up something else. Now, no cheating – like giving up a pen for an arm chair, but you get the idea. 8. Be intentional Living with intention will have a profound impact on your life. Be thoughtful in your actions and choices. This extends to your organization and stuff. When you consider purchasing an item, you must first evaluate it and decide if you really need it. I often don’t buy it right then, but next time I am in that store (in a week or two). If I still want it then, I usually go for it if it makes sense.
9. Think inside the box
This is a technique that I use when I feel that a certain space is cluttered or if I start stacking stuff. Take a box, fill it up with everything. Then as you need the items pull them out of the box. Six weeks later, if you still have stuff in the box – no, let me rephrase that, you WILL have stuff in the box – you can evaluate what is left. There is rarely an item that I have that I don’t use within 6 weeks that’s worth keeping. Detailed box theory.
10. Most used items easy to access
This seems pretty obvious, but having the most used items in the front means you are able to access them quicker and without disturbing other things. This ties back to being intentional. You should be intense about organizing your items in this manner. If you notice that there are items in the back that haven’t been touched in a while, it’s time to evaluate whether you still need them.
Just got this email from Jay. In it he talks about his new push to take on the International Code Council. Here is the email
It has been nearly 14 years since I started, what I like to call, my aggressive pacifist’s campaign to make the built world a smaller place. To date, my approach has been to pretty much just live my life in a small footprint and hope that my example might inspire others to do the same.
On Wednesday, March 3 at roughly 7:00pm at the Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol, CA. I’ll be taking a somewhat more active approach. Ignite Sebastopol 3 is part of Global Ignite Week. Roughly a dozen speakers from the Bay Area will be given just twenty slides and five minutes each to present their subjects. I will be using my time to rip America’s system of imposed excess a new body part. My distain for the building codes that restrict how small a house can be is no secret. On March 3rd I’ll be making my position all the more clear. All presentations will be recorded and posted for international viewing.
I see this as a great way to kick off a period of more active activism in which I will be working to convince the International Code Council that International Residential Code (sections 304.1,2 &3 in particular) needs revision. I don’t expect this to be easy. The road ahead is likely to be a long one for all opposed to size prohibition- one full of marches and demonstrations, possible jail time and the all the fun stuff seemingly integral to social change. I’m already working on my “I Have a Tiny Dream” speech and bracing for the possibility of my own tiny Waco. I hope everyone else out there in favor of housing rights will start thinking about what they can do to help. I will, of course, be using our website to keep folks posted about marches, sit-ins, stand-offs and other fun ways to get involved.
I’m including a copy of my proposal to amend codes here. It’s still a work in progress, so feedback is very welcome.
Viva la Tiny Revolution!
This minimal Tiny House is actually a bathhouse with all the amenities of a house. it is from Sweden and is designed for people to sit in the sauna and then jump in the cool water of the outside pool. The best part of this house for me isn’t the house, but the landscaping. With amazing reed partitions, a natural soaking pool, and a nature all around, I am very jealous of this place. Not quite sure the size of it is.