Adventurer, environmental activist and “Dude Making a Difference” Rob Greenfield is also involved in the tiny house movement but feels that the rise in luxury models is missing the point. In a bid to prove that small living can be done on a modest budget, he recently built a tiny house for under US$1,500 in Florida using mostly recycled materials.
“I often find tiny houses to be very inaccessible,” explains Greenfield on his blog. “At the festival I went to in Oregon there were plenty of houses in the $40,000-$80,000 range and even some as costly as $150,000. Don’t get me wrong, they were amazing tiny houses, but I know many people just find that idea to be totally absurd. There’s no way I could afford a tiny house that expensive, even if I wanted one, which I don’t. I love simple living, and living far more simply than most tiny house dwellers even.”
His tiny house measures just 100 sq ft (9.2 sq m) and was built using different recycled materials, such as pieces of fencing and plywood. The build was carried out with a lot of help from friends and only produced 30 lb (13 kg) of waste. There’s currently no insulation and Greenfield considered adding some or a wood-burning stove to keep the chill at bay, but says he’s been fine so far.
A good chunk of the snug interior is taken up by storage for Greenfield’s homegrown foods. A small desk is made from wood scraps and the floor is decked out in wood that was being thrown out from a house that flooded. The bed is made from more scrap wood.
Greenfield originally planned to live totally off-the-grid but it didn’t make sense to install solar power with the tiny amount of electricity he uses (the bill is roughly $100 per year), so he makes use of a hookup to power a deep chest freezer.
The kitchen is located outside in a little shelter made from leftover materials from the tiny house build. It has a small solar-powered light, propane camp stove, a solar oven, and a biogas stove. A fire pit is also nearby. The sink is fed by a rainwater collection system and the water is then reused for irrigation.
The toilet is also outside and is a composting system with two separate toilet seats, one for each type of waste. The resulting waste is then either diluted with water and poured onto plants, or composted for a year and used to grow more plants. The “toilet paper” is a mint leaf grown on the property, which Greenfield says is very soft. His shower is basically a bowl fed by rainwater, with burlap surrounding it for privacy.
As you’d probably guess, the $1,500 cost doesn’t include the purchase of any land and Greenfield has his tiny house installed in someone else’s garden in Orlando. Instead of paying rent, he helps out around the house and does garden work. Once he leaves in about two years, the owner will get to keep the tiny house.
Greenfield has a lot going on. He gives talks on sustainable living, and has also headed a campaign that strives to end food waste in the USA. Check out the video below to learn more on his tiny house and lifestyle.