Build a Tiny House – Create Your Freedom

Have you ever dreamed of escaping from a noisy city to a quiet place where there is no pollution, noise, and stress? Well, if you are thinking of going somewhere, you want to book a hotel room, right?

What if you could travel in your home on wheels? You can lead a nomadic lifestyle and roam the country in your tiny home. That sounds great, doesn’t it? This is entirely possible with your tiny home on wheels. You may have heard about it, but not really for travel, maybe just for a short stay.

The tiny house movement promotes a simple and economically safe and minimalistic living. Tiny houses are popular in many countries like the US, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Japan and more. They will become even more popular in the future, because people love to travel, want to escape stressful lives and lead a simple lifestyle. People become more aware of environmental problems and want to reduce their impact on the environment.

Tiny houses can be stationary, but since they are built on a trailer, they can be easily moved anywhere. You cannot do this with a cabin or even a small mansion. In addition, your tiny house is built in such a way that it can be easily disassembled and then assembled like a yurt.

How to build a tiny house?

When you decide to embark on a tiny house journey, do your research first. Just search for “tiny house for sale” or “tiny house for sale near me” on the internet, and on YouTube. Many people share pictures of their tiny house living on Instagram. Some of them are quite inspirational like @tinyhomiez, @thatgrackle and many others.

There are many tiny houses for sale, so you can choose and buy one. However, if you want to build your own tiny house, you need to find tiny home builders. Or you can start building your tiny house yourself and save half the cost.

First, you need to choose the floor plan of a tiny house that you like. There are tiny house floor plans for free that you can look through. Then you need to find a tiny home trailer. There are many tiny home trailers, both new and used. You can also build your own dream tiny house trailer.

How to choose a tiny house trailer?

Let’s find out the basics of a tiny house. Look for a trailer frame depending on the size of the tiny house you want. You can have a trailer of any size, ranging from 12 feet to 56 feet in length and up to 10 feet in width, or even super-sized 12-feet models. The 18 and 24 feet are the most popular models of tiny house trailers.

The standard deck height is 28 inches above the slope with an 8-inch box frame and 24 inches with 4-inch drop axles. In addition to the trailer plan, you can choose the design of the roof, doors, and windows of your tiny home.

Choosing Your Unique Tiny House Shell

You can choose from a large number of spacious floor plans and designs with a larger kitchen, living area or bathroom, depending on how you prefer to spend time or the number of inhabitants.

Each Tiny House Shell comes standard with 4 windows and one entrance door, the location of which you can choose for yourself. You can add more windows or even a second door, or replace it with a set of French doors or patio doors. For windows, you can install standard vinyl windows with tempered glass double-glazing, or you can switch to sashes, awnings or even accordion windows (also called folding doors). These features are especially precious for those who love to get in touch with nature.

Once you have made construction plans, you need to decide where you will live in your tiny house. Once you have figured out your living location, you can also plan small outside storage, a recreation space, and other things.

Benefits of Tiny House Living

Living in a tiny house certainly has many advantages that will make your life stress-free and more connected with nature.

But what the owners of tiny houses are most happy about is getting their financial freedom. You can install solar panels on the roof and reduce your energy bills. You will also save you money because you do not need to buy a lot of stuff. Finally, it will completely change your lifestyle to the one you dreamed about.

Here are just a few of the benefits, and these are definitely not all of them:

  • It’s quite affordable and you save a lot of money on utility bills.
  • You have less stress and anxiety due to a busy lifestyle and an unhealthy environment.
  • You can move it anywhere and travel around the country.
  • You can connect to nature and enjoy the tranquility of nature.
  • You can live a more spiritual and conscious life with less dependence on material things.

In addition to the above, you can engage in various activities such as tiny home communities and tiny home festivals. Joining tiny house expo and festivals is a great opportunity to connect with the kindred people and learn about affordable and sustainable housing.

The first tiny house expo took place on October 11-13, 2019, when about 6,000 people gathered to tour various tiny houses models as a living opportunity. The informational workshops held during the expo taught visitors how to reduce their environmental impact and lead a zero-waste lifestyle, solar options, and DIY building. The expo was organized by SmartShare Housing Solutions in partnership with Ecologistics and SLO Climate Coalition with sponsorship from the city and more than thirty other businesses and organizations.  For information on the Tiny Footprint Expo 2020, go to TinyFootprintExpo.com.

In Conclusion

When you start living in your tiny house you will gradually adopt a minimalistic and a zero-waste lifestyle. By adding solar panels and using less water, you will save on bills, gain financial freedom and save the environment. Your quality of life will improve significantly and become more relaxed, free from stress and more conscious. Your day will be much more enjoyable, and you will find more time for meditation, yoga or just walking in nature.


What Can Be Recycled? – The Case of Polystyrene

We cannot change the fact that people produce waste. An average person uses 45-85 tonnes of materials each year. However, we can change how much waste we produce, how we manage it and what we do with it.

Indeed, managing waste in a sustainable way, optimizing recycling and reuse, as well as limiting production, forms a core part of any government policy to protect the environment.

To reduce waste industries, businesses and governments are developing advanced technologies that by mimicking nature turn the waste into a resource.

Dematerialization is being encouraged through the ideas of industrial ecology, eco-design, and eco-labeling. In addition to the well-established “reduce, reuse and recycle” shoppers are using their purchasing power for ethical consumerism.

Reduce or Waste Minimization

Waste minimization is not going to reduce waste output to zero. Therefore we also have to think about what we do with the rubbish left.

Reuse

The reuse of products or materials that would otherwise become waste can provide a range of social, economic and environmental benefits. This is an area where the voluntary and community waste sector has led the way. The sector has pioneered many of the services that are widespread today, such as the re-use of furniture and white goods.

Recycle / Recover

Recycling is a way every individual can help the environment every day – and it is easier to do than it has ever been. Your recycling options will vary depending on where you live and what service provider you have. Some service providers allow you to put all your recycling into one bin, except glass and plastic bags.

Most common is drop off locations specifically for plastic bags, and other waste recycling items.

Polystyrene food containers
Takeaway food in a styrofoam container. Photo credit: Piqsels

What Can Be Recycled

Rigid Plastics/Bottles

– Any plastic bottles or containers found in your kitchen

Paper and Cardboard

– Cereal/snack cardboard boxes

– Phonebooks, magazines, and mail

– Office Paper, newspaper, and cardboard

Metals

– Tin, aluminum, and steel cans

Glass

– Food containers or jars

– Soft drink and beer bottles

– Wine and liquor bottles

What Cannot Be Recycled

Loose Plastic Bags

– Plastic shopping bags

– Plastic stretch wrap

Polystyrene Foam Cups or Containers

– Egg cartons

– Take out containers

– Drinking cups

Soiled Food Items

– Food soiled containers

– Soiled paper products

Other

– Broken or sharp glass

– Fast-food packaging

– Plastic utensils

In many places scheduled trash pickup services to offer customized trash pickup solutions to manage your daily garbage collection and waste needs.

What is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene packaging, commonly known as the trademark Styrofoam is a type of plastic made from petroleum and synthetic chemicals. It usually comes in two forms: “Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), which is used for making disposable cups, plates, take-out food containers, and packing materials and “solid polystyrene, which is used in plastic forks, CD, DVD cases and other products.

Polystyrene can’t be recycled through your weekly recycling bin. Most places still don’t accept it in foam forms because it’s 98% air. So take it back to a local grocery store that participates in a store take-back program for the recycling of the foam packaging. Polystyrene recycling drop off recycling stations are now available at some locations.

Polystyrene is hard to recycle because it is an end product. Polystyrene is non-biodegradable and its lifespan in a landfill can last for hundreds of thousands of years.

What Are the Effects of Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is the most widely used plastic packaging due to its melting point and durability. However, polystyrene is one of the least recycled post-consumer plastics, at a rate of below 1 percent for post-consumer polystyrene foam.

Styrene, a synthetic compound in styrofoam, and styrene oxide can leach into foods and affect human health. Obviously, this poses a serious threat to humans health and the environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study found tiny styrene residues in the human fat tissue samples. The EPA and International Agency for Research on Cancer consider styrene a “possible human carcinogen” and “that such materials can have serious impacts upon human health, wildlife, and aquatic environment, and the economy.” In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had added styrene to its list of known or possible carcinogens.

Therefore, recycling polystyrene is of great importance as a serious hazard to humans, wildlife, marine life, and the environment.

the case of polystyrene
Styrofoam food containers. Photo by Romana Klee/Wunderstock

Polystyrene Ban

On January 1, 2019, the New York City enforced its ban on Styrofoam. because the material can’t be “recycled in a manner that is economically feasible” or “environmentally effective” in its recycling program. Other cities have already banned EPS packaging including Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami Beach, Seattle and Washington, DC. Several states in the U.S. passed a ban on polystyrene in food containers at restaurants and grocery stores.

Alternatives for food packaging are made from bamboo, cornstarch, mushrooms, and peat plastic, and other plant-based materials.

Currently, many countries across the world banned single-use plastics including Styrofoams. Others consider ESP ban legislation and businesses phase out EPS foam packaging.

Some companies like Dell and Ikea are already offering alternative packaging. Other leading brands pledged to ensure that 70% of their packaging is reused or recycled globally. These are Coca-Cola, Danone, Dow Chemical, L’Oreal, Marks & Spencer, Mars, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever.

McDonald’s is pledging to replace EPS with renewable or recyclable materials in all of its packagings by 2025. Other major U.S. companies like Amazon, Target and Walmart under growing pressure to make plans to phase out the foam.

Starbucks promised to make a 100 percent recyclable coffee cup.  The company plans to double recyclability, compostability, and reusability of their cups and packaging by 2022 and. Starbucks is committed to phasing out plastic straws from its stores globally by 2020.

Besides polystyrene, other packaging products with limited recycling markets include plastic cutlery, straws and paper napkins.

Recycling tips

  • If you buy things that can be reused, you will save precious natural resources and energy used to make them, and you’ll reduce the amount of landfill space we need when they are thrown away.
  • Well-made items may cost a little more, to begin with, but they are usually worth the money because they last for a long time.
  • When your family goes shopping, think about taking bags with you. Only about 700 paper bags can be made from one 15-year-old tree.
  • Plastic bags start out as either oil or natural gas – non-renewable resources. Throw-away bags add a lot of pollution to the environment.
  • If everyone recycled his or her newspaper just one day a week, we would save about 36 million trees a year. You can save a tree for every four feet of paper you recycle.
  • Recycle your newspapers. Recycle your old notebook paper. It is considered “white paper,” and makes better-recycled paper.
  • Batteries that are thrown away produce most of the heavy metals – dangerous substances like lead, arsenic, zinc, cadmium, copper, and mercury – that are found in household trash. These metals are toxic. They can be harmful to humans and wildlife.
  • Turn off the toys and games that use batteries when you are not playing with them. That makes the batteries last longer, and you won’t need as many of them.
  • Use rechargeable batteries and a recharger.

All together, avoid packaging that cannot be disposed of in your community. Instead, choose alternatives made from plant-based material. Take the initiative to encourage local companies, colleagues, and friends to switch to biodegradable packaging. By doing this, you can help protect the environment from plastic pollution and prevent the poisoning of fish and aquatic animals in the ocean.

Why Should Animal Fur Be Banned?

During the Stone Age, people wore animal fur to survive the cold winter seasons. Later fur clothes became luxury items and a representation of status and glamor.

Top designers’ brands signed the verdict banning real fur from future collections. These are Burberry, Coach, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Maison Martin Margiela, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Donna Karan/DKNY, Versace and Chanel. The Chanel fashion house banned both fur and exotic skins from its collections in favor of sustainable materials. However, fur is still being used by some fashion designers like Oscar de la Renta and others.

Last month Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II announced that they will never wear animal fur and will replace it with an animal-free sustainable alternative. The Queen has banned fur on all of her new outfits, she will however not dispose of existing fur items in her wardrobe.

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) president Ingrid Newkirk has written to the Queen to grant ECOPEL fur replacement on her ceremonial robes with faux fur. “Our faux fur is already celebrated by fashion royalty, but we want to prove that it’s also fit for a queen,” said ECOPEL Director Christopher Sarfati.

New Eco-friendly Fashion Designers

A new wave of eco-friendly fashion designers is promoting cruelty-free outerwear from faux fur. The coats and jackets look incredibly glamorous and even luxurious. The top faux fur designer brands are House of Fluff, Faz Not Fur, N’ONAT, Shrimps, Spirit Hoods, Only Me, the Culthread, Dagmar and others.

The designers provide a guilt-free option and high-quality ethical design. Some of them donate part of their profits towards animal conservation charities and various animal rights organizations. Obviously, cruelty-free fashion is the most desirable option for all animal lovers.

Eco-innovations in Fashion Design

Eco-friendly materials can replace Stone Age habit of animal fur wearing. For example, the Culthread brand makes insulation in their fake-fur lined puffer jackets with Thermore 100% produced from recycled plastic bottles. The Only Me brand insulates their coats with a heat-retaining, breathable material called Thinsulate, which provides warmth even better than real fur.

ECOPEL, the world’s leading luxury faux producer, developed plant-based and recycled synthetic materials as well as faux fur made from recycled plastics. As a result, the faux fur made from recycled polyester helped to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 71 percent.

Eco-conscious designer Stella McCartney has long used vegan leather and is dedicated to only using sustainable materials in her collections. She recently launched first plant-based faux fur called Koba Fur-Free-Fur made by Ecopel with DuPont Sorona corn fibers and recycled polyester.

She was at first confused about her using faux fur: “I’d done fake fur many, many years ago, and I’d really questioned whether it was appropriate to do it and if it was necessary. Because fake fur now looks so real, I was afraid that I was promoting real fur, but I created these fur-free labels that will be on the outside of products so you can actually tell people it’s not,” she said in her Vogue interview.

Stella McCartney plant-based faux fur
Stella McCartney plant-based faux fur

Environmental Impact

More than 100 million animals are raised and killed for their fur every year. Over 95 percent of the fur comes from farm animals. Numerous scientific reports indicate that fur production causes severe health problems for farm animals on all fur farms.

The fur is promoted as a natural and environmentally friendly product, however, it’s hidden from our eyes that the fur industry is quite polluting. Fur production requires chemicals before it’s used in clothing and other products.

The first environmental problems caused by fur production, is the requirement of land, water, feed, energy and other resources for the farm breeding of the animals. The fur is treated with poisonous chemicals and heavy metals for the processing of leather. These chemicals contribute significantly to land, water, and air pollution. Moreover, they are toxic to human health causing health problems to fur factories workers such as skin and eye disorders and increased cancer risk.

According to the World Bank analysis the fur industry belonged in the top 5 which cause the heaviest metal pollution. The poisonous chemicals can also be damaging to fur wearers. Research in the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark showed that some fur products contain residues from poisonous chemicals that contain carcinogens. Some of the harmful substances were even found on children’s fur outwear.

The fur is also bad for the environment because the production of fur requires a lot of energy and resources, and causes greenhouse gasses emission and environmental pollution. According to Dutch research organization CE-Delft, the production of mink fur causes the emission of greenhouse gasses more than 10 times higher than those of plant-based textiles. On the contrary, the production of faux fur was 3 to 10 times more environmentally friendly than the real fur production.

Animal Fur Ban By Countries

California is the first state in the U.S. to ban fur, announced by the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, banning the sale of animal fur products. PETA applauded Newsom for a statewide fur ban: “PETA pushed hard and thousands of our supporters wrote to their representatives in support of the ban.” “This lifesaving measure will prevent animals from being beaten, electrocuted, and skinned alive for environmentally toxic items that compassionate shoppers no longer want and top designers no longer use.”

Fur farming ban has become the global anti-fur movement. The first countries to ban fur farming were the United Kingdom (2000) and Austria (2004). Other countries introducing fur farming ban include Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Czech Republic. The Netherlands passed a ban and will phase-out fur production entirely by 2024. In 2018, Norway passed a fur farming, after a phase-out period until 2025. Most recently, Slovakia joined the ban in October 2019, to end fur production by 2025. Ireland, Montenegro, and Bulgaria are currently considering the fur farming ban.

Fur farming was phased-out in Germany and Sweden due to stricter welfare regulations. Japan and Spain accepted the Invasive Alien Species Acts to close down the last mink farms in 2016. Other U.S. states and countries accepted the fur trade ban.

What can you do? Refuse to buy and wear clothes that containing any fur components. Share your awareness about the negative impact of the fur industry with your community. Promote an environmentally friendly and cruelty-free lifestyle.

Only animals should wear natural fur because they own it.

Why Should We Ban Single-Use Plastics?

Plastic is a very extraordinary substance with numerous useful applications however it doesn’t worth to produce it for only a single-use when it is so seemingly long-lasting, persevering, and harmful for the natural environment.

What Is Single-Use Plastic?

Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used just once before they are discarded or recycled. These are plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda, and water bottles and most of the food packaging. Disposable plastic shopping bags take around 20 years to degrade in the ocean – leaving synthetic substances and harmful particles (microplastics) behind. A bottle that holds one beverage will take 450 years or more and for a polystyrene (styrofoam) container  – from 500 to hundreds of thousands of years to break down into microplastic.

We produce approximately 300 million tons of plastic every year and half of it is disposable! Worldwide just 10 to 13 percent of plastics are recycled. Petroleum-based plastic isn’t biodegradable and for the most part, goes into a landfill where it is covered or it gets into the water and discovers its way into the ocean. Albeit plastic won’t biodegrade (deteriorate into a common substance like soil) it will degrade into tiny particles after many years. During the period of degrading, it discharges toxic substances that advance into our food and water supply.

We produce a large number of plastics consistently, a large portion of which can’t be recycled. Clearly we have to use less plastic, move towards environmentally sustainable products and develop technology and innovations that recycle plastic more effectively.

E.U. Single-Use Plastic Ban 

In October 2018, the European Parliament voted for a ban on the top 10 single-use plastic items including straws, plates, cups and cotton buds, in an attempt to stop plastic pollution of the ocean and empower sustainable options.

The Single-Use Plastics Directive will ban items for which alternatives are available, for example, single-use plastic cutlery, plates, and products made of oxo-degradable plastics, by 2021. E.U. members states will likewise need to accomplish a 90 percent collection target for plastic bottles by 2029.

Moreover, the agreement will extend the “polluter pays” principle, putting more pressure on producers of tobacco filters, fishing gear, and other pollutive items to support environmental obligation.

The ban is, initially, extensive. Besides the 2021 complete restriction on a lot of single-use items, the use of plastics for which no alternatives now exist – generally food packaging – should be cut down by 25 percent by 2025. Beverage bottles will require be collecting and recycling at a pace of 90 percent by 2025. Cigarette butts should be reduced by 50 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2030.

As per the European Commission, over 80 percent of marine litter is plastics, and less than 30 percent of the 25 million tons of plastic waste produced yearly by E.U. nations are recycled. Because of its slow pace of decomposition, plastic accumulates in oceans, seas and on seashores in the E.U. and around the world. The legislation is evaluated to keep away from around $25 billion worth of environmental damage by 2030.

E.U. single-use plastic ban
The most common objects of plastic pollution. Credit: Twitter
What Is Being Banned?

The E.U. Single-Use Plastics Directive focuses on the most widely recognized plastic pollutants of the ocean. The list of banned products such as cutlery and cotton buds was picked because there are promptly accessible alternatives, for example, paper straws and cardboard containers.

Other products, “where no elective exists” in any case must be decreased by 25 percent in all member states by 2025.

MEPs likewise attached alterations to the designs for cigarette filters, a plastic pollutant that is common litter on seashores. Cigarette producers should lessen the plastic by half by 2025 and 80 percent by 2030.

Another ambitious objective is to ensure 90 percent of every single plastic beverage bottles are collected for recycling by 2025. As of now, bottles and their lids represent about 20 percent of the ocean plastic. Producers will likewise need to assume greater responsibility for what befalls their plastic items and packaging.

Single-Use Plastic Ban in North America

Only around 10 percent of plastic waste gets recycled in the USA and Canada. Most plastic up in landfills, some is burned and others wind up in unmanaged dumps.

Canada plans to “ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021” and address companies that that manufacture or sell plastics to be responsible for their plastic waste. The Canadian government did not specify which single-use plastic items will be banned, but most likely the list will include “shopping bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada threw away 8 billion Canadian dollars’ worth of plastic material each year. “People have had enough of seeing their parks and beaches covered with plastic,” he said. “That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.”

There is no nation-wide plastic ban in the USA. However, several states announced a ban on most types of disposable bags. In 2016, California passed the first statewide ban on single-use plastic, as well as a 10-cent tax on paper or reusable bags.

Other states include Hawaii, New York and as well as the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

New York plastic bags ban
New York bans plastic bags. Image source: Pixabay / BrightVibes

There have also been plastic bag bans implemented in cities like Seattle, Boston, San Diego and Washington, D.C., and some states like Maine, Vermont, and Maryland.

However, this has led to clashing over whether it’s legal to ban plastic in some cities and states, placing a ban on ban. The plastic industry is putting a lot of their money on preemption to make it illegal to ban single-use plastics.

Plastic Pollution Is a Global Challenge

Countries around the globe are joining the initiative in banning harmful plastics. The United Nations reports that 180 countries reached an agreement to reduce single-use plastics that make it to the ocean and is harmful to marine wildlife by imposing bans or taxes.

In 2002, Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags. The Indian government announced that will eliminate single-use plastics by 2022. Since 2017, Kenya has implemented the strict plastic bag ban for selling, producing or using plastic bags that could end up with imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000. Single-use plastic bags have been prohibited in New Zealand starting on July 1, 2019.

Chili was the first country to ban nationwide single-use plastics in Latin America, followed by Colombia and Panama. Costa Rica pledged to abandon disposable plastics by 2021. Other countries and cities in Latin America and the Caribbean use taxes, bans and innovative approaches.

The Impact of Plastic on the Environment

A large number of plastics floats in the ocean in goliath islands of plastic waste. As indicated by the World Economic Forum, 90 percent of the plastic winding up in the oceans, and that presently there are 50 million tons of plastic in the world’s oceans.

Obscure amounts have degraded into tiny toxic microplastic particles that act similarly as microbeads, drawing in and restricting different toxins and making themselves increasingly dangerous. While it floats and breaks down, the plastic drains marine-toxic synthetic compounds into the water. Microparticles of plastic end up in the stomachs of marine creatures, birds and, in a human organism too.

single-use plastic ban
Sea lion tangled in plastic. Photo credit: Pxfuel

The impacts of plastic bags and bottle caps on seabirds, turtles, seals, whales, and different species are graphically shown by their death from starvation after erroneously expending the plastic or from getting tangled up in it.

These toxic substances are presently being found in our circulation system and the most recent research has discovered them to upset the Endocrine framework which can cause cancer, infertility, birth defects, impaired immunity, and numerous different sicknesses.

In conclusion, we need to consider changing our everyday shopping habits such as excessive consumption and minimizing single-use plastic waste. Before buying anything containing plastic parts, consider alternatives, including packaging. You can find more recycling tips here.

What are other ways to avoid using single-use plastics? Do you use them when you go shopping? Do they help you minimize your expenses or vice versa? Please share your comments or questions below.