Ambitions: Tiny House, Zero Waste

All right, since building a Tiny House is what started this blog, let’s get to the update!

Donovan now has the funds available from a loan to build his Tiny and has enlisted the help of a kind and able journeyman electrician to help ease his electrical workload while he focuses on constructing his home.

His custom-ordered, 10-foot-wide, drop-axle trailer from Retco Trailers in Sikeston, Missouri, is to be picked up next week!

Angle Iron-D
Something like this…

His dad, Ed, an excellent carpenter, has agreed to help frame in the house.

A knowledgeable plumber, Kevin, will assist with the aspects of plumbing we wouldn’t even know to think of.

Local dumpsters and Home Depot will supply some of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified and formaldehyde-free lumber.

The High Performance Building Supply Company 475 will provide the means for reaching as-close-as-possible Passive House (stringent energy reduction) standard with materials such as air-sealing tapes and Gutex, a “moisture resistant wood fiberboard insulation and weather-resistive-barrier-in-one.”

Soon to be ordered are the amazing handcrafted, triple-paned windows (13 total!) from Colorado-based Alpen. When comparing the R-value, that is, the resistance to heat and cold transference that a material provides, these windows are astounding. The models we’re purchasing provide an R7 to an R9, which is incredible when compared with a typical R2 that a double-paned window provides. (Side note: I recently read to Donovan a wish list I made several years ago about my dream-home, and a key point that had him swooning for me all over again was my desire for well-insulated windows.)

And then there are the solar thermal and photovoltaic panels to order—we’ll be consulting with a local technician well versed in solar installations soon.

From that minimal list of craftspeople and suppliers, you may understand why it’s taken so long to get this far, and also note that this is no ordinary house. We have and will continue to make decisions weighing the most sustainable choices we can. For instance, the price of the super-windows is breathtaking (nearly a third of the budget), but supporting a business dedicated to sustainability and reaping the daily benefits of natural lighting and a connection to the outdoors is, for us, well worth it. Then there’s the decision to use Gutex, a building product made from recycled wood fibers and a sustainable choice…if you don’t calculate the embodied energy incurred shipping it from Germany to the US! Donovan’s feeling is that he is part of a market that will eventually encourage a US-based company to start producing these products.

Related to Tiny Housing and the Minimalist Movement: In addition to TH preparations, we’ve been altering our lifestyles to produce less waste, especially the tons of plastic that ends up in landfills and oceans and other wild places. In other words, we’ve boarded the Zero Waste train. Although we’re not 100% there—we both make exceptions for products we buy for clients when there is no way around packaging to perform our jobs—we make a serious effort to eliminate packaging in whatever we buy. What this looks like is: committing to buying all our food (in this order) fresh, in bulk, or in easily-recyclable, non-plastic packaging (this has effectively rendered us dairy-free, as we’ve yet to find a satisfactory way of purchasing bulk cheese or yogurt sans containers); continuing to buy used products that are unnecessary to buy new (that’s almost everything, by the way); not buying snack food like chips (a major blow to Donovan’s signature dish of nachos); regularly baking fermented breads to avoid the infinite number of bags associated with buying it (one of the few DIY projects I’m willing to take on rather than do without); and, unexpectedly, saving money and eating healthier (since there are less options for fast, processed food)!

We’re also continuing to happily Live Apart Together (LAT), or, maintain our relationship as nextdoor neighbors rather than roomies. LAT (which I imagine is pronounced “laht”) is more common in Europe than the US, as far as I can tell, and it is a sustainable solution for many of the issues we’ve had in our relationship.

Much love to all you Tiny House following folks.

I’ve got to get out in that spring sunshine now!



3 thoughts on “Ambitions: Tiny House, Zero Waste

  1. Thanks for the update Rachel. Building a new passive TH is impressive. I bet the windows are a key component. I admire that you’re moving toward zero waste. I’m not even trying, but I don’t do the big wasters like convenience foods, new purchases, and plane flights. There are always tradeoffs and hard choices.

    Liked by 1 person

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