6 Pillars of Tiny Living: Getting Serious About Sustainability

Corey —  September 26, 2014

tiny-houseAccording to CNN Money, 76 percent of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck with no emergency savings. In addition, sustainability challenges are disrupting the natural, mutually beneficial balance between human beings and the Earth. On the surface, these might look like unrelated issues, but they can both be addressed by making some lifestyle changes. The Tiny Living movement offers solutions both to financial challenges associated with housing and global environmental preservation.

No one has to incorporate all six pillars of Tiny Living, but try incorporating some or all of them into your lifestyle. You’ll increase your well-being and your spending power while lowering your negative impact on the environment.

1.    Tiny Houses

In the U.S., the average new home encompasses 2,600 square feet and costs $324,500. Americans, on average, devote one-third to one-half of their income just to sustaining the roof over their heads. Tiny houses, built according to the Tiny Living philosophy, are an average of 400 square feet. Those dimensions might seem alarmingly small for your family, but you can still realize the benefits of smaller living without going all the way to tiny. For instance, if you’re thinking of building a new home, check out small house plans that are both more affordable and more sustainable. In addition to costing less to build, smaller homes ensure lower energy costs and consume fewer natural resources. If you’re interested in buying a pre-owned home, it may be worth it to get the roof, windows, siding and gutters checked for any damages by Roofs By Rodger.

2.    Environmental Consciousness

Smaller houses are inherently more environmentally conscious, but you don’t have to sell your current home and build a small house to become more eco-friendly. Start by talking to your utility company about an energy audit to see what your energy challenges may be. Use the information to invest in insulation, caulking, weather-stripping, Energy Star appliances, and other low-cost strategies to make your home more energy efficient. If you remodel or add more space later, invest in eco-friendly materials and design an energy efficient renovation. For example, instead of extending oil heat into your new family room addition, heat the room by using a pellet stove.

3.    Self-Sufficiency

sustainabilityYou don’t have to sell everything, move to the country, and become a homesteader to live a more self-sufficient life. If gardening interests you, then cut your grocery costs by growing some of your own fruits and vegetables. You can also compost leftover non-animal food and food by-products, such as fruit and vegetable peels, and use the compost to nourish your garden soil. Instead of discarding your old clothing, donate it or swap it with someone else. You’ll not only cut down on waste but also on expensive trips to the store. Use the money you save to invest in quality items, in travel, or in furthering your education.

4.    Life Simplification

How many of your current activities truly enrich your life? Would your children still be happy if you weren’t pouring money into expensive and time-consuming recreation? If you’re holding onto a job you hate to fund activities that aren’t rewarding, then you’re living a futile existence. Look for ways to simplify your life and enjoy more unstructured time with your family and friends.

5.    Sound Fiscal Plans

Today’s adults are part of what sociologists call the Sandwich Generation. They’re raising children and shouldering college expenses while also caring for aging parents. If you’re winging it instead of figuring out how you’ll pay for college, medical expenses, long-term care, and retirement, then your lifestyle in your golden years could seriously decline. Start making plans, like investing in your 401k, opening a 529 account, or purchasing long-term care insurance, that address your long-term needs.

6.    Social Consciousness

social-consciousnessIf you use social media, including Facebook and Twitter, then you constantly encounter slacktivists (in fact, you might even be one). Slacktivists complain about the world’s problems and share inflammatory information, but they never take real-world action to address the problems that seem to consume their thoughts. Counter social media slacktivism by making a real difference. Volunteer for a cause or an organization that matters to you, or find another way to counter the world’s problems and create a better society.

Living a tinier lifestyle doesn’t mean eating only organic food, sewing your own clothes, and building your own home from scratch. By incorporating some Tiny Living principles into your life, you’ll make a tangible difference for both the Earth and your wallet.



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.