How can you and I enhance sustainable development? In my workshops, I always ask the participants, in one way or another, how they are already enhancing sustainable development and what they could do to get a discussion started about solutions and actions. Therefore, I think a lot about what I can do myself, beyond educating and consulting about it (which handprint is 1300 times larger than the footprint).
According to the recent assessment of countries’ progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Finland has taken the top spot for the second year. Finland is doing well when it comes to social and economic sustainability aspects. Still, it faces challenges “related to ecological sustainability, including the fight against climate change, the need for more sustainable consumption and production patterns, and halting biodiversity loss” (Government Communications Department, June 3rd, 2022).
One solution that would positively affect all sustainability aspects would be to live in smaller houses. From the economic and ecological aspect, smaller houses mean fewer resources used and less stuff needed. For house builders, social sustainability is about living in a neighborhood and community you like, which tiny houses are great for since they can be placed everywhere where you want to live.
One of my inspirations for tiny houses is from Denmark, Anders Boisen, who has built his home of 14 m2. He has written a book about his life and organizes courses that you can read about more at his webpage hjempåhjul.dk. I met Anders in 2014 at a Nordic adult education for education for sustainable development. The course was developed and realized in a Nordic network that works to enhance sustainable development in adult education, which I have been a part of since 2010. I have followed his journey and been inspired by the fact that you can live in a small house in a Nordic country.
In April, I got this strong feeling that I wanted to learn more, and in May, I attended a course about building tiny houses in southern Sweden, held by Ecotopia. I learned a lot and got even more inspired. On top of my mind are that there are different well-functioning dry toilets on the market, you can make drinking water out of rainwater, and for isolation, many environmentally friendly options are available. The actual building seemed quite simple, and that is a part that can easily be outsourced if you don’t like the building.
My father has been a pioneer in solar panels and imported one from Sweden when I was a child to their summer cottage, which is why I am familiar with them. However, jeez, they have developed the last time, an excellent example of that more environmentally friendly option growing fast when the market is right.
If you build for yourself and with time, you can concentrate on recycling existing material and furniture. In the course I attended, it was recommended to start with finding the doors and the windows and planning based on them.
I dream of planning a house that could be sold, meaning first building a couple, testing them, and then building or designing a sketch for sale. I think the house should include places for sleeping, working, cooking and storing food, a shower, and a toilet. For making it attractive, also for people who have not lived in a house before, I think there should be a well-done manual, which would include how all the equipment works, like the solar panels, the toilet, the drinking water system, etc. The manual should also have error solution advice, like how to do if a piece of specific equipment does not work.
However, we’ll see. Now, this is just a dream I am allowing myself to develop further with time.
Next? Well, at least tiny houses will be included in my lecture material as a case. Still, I am also interested in finding land, close to public transport, in a small houses-friendly municipality, where I could start building. If you have similar thoughts, feel free to get in touch, I would like to develop the idea further and brainstorm ideas.
Tove Holm, June 22nd, 2022