Friday, May 1, 2009

Downsizing – How To - Part 3 of 3

What will you need to live comfortably?
We've recently scaled back our energy and water consumption drastically and have noticed that we're still quite comfortable. This practice will be easy to continue in the Tiny Cottage.

We've decided to use propane for heating, cooking and the on-demand hot water heater. For most lighting we'll use a bunch of LED rechargeable battery-powered strips and occasionally a couple of LED Christmas light strings for mood lighting.

We chose a compost toilet which is huge compared to everyday toilet sizes but this unit requires less fiddling with than others we found. We'd rather use this sort of system than to own a black water tank and experience the joys of finding a place to dump it.

Since we can't make water (and no, it doesn't always rain in Seattle) we'll need a garden hose hookup for showers and will use a grey water system to give it safely back to the environment. The installation of rain barrel or two will happen after the move so that we will use less 'grid' water and we already have a very low-flow shower head that has an on/off mechanism to bring with us.

We'll need an extension cord from our host house to give us power for only our tiny frig and the LED Christmas lights. At some point we might go solar but we don't yet know where we'll be parked (if you have any leads for us in/near Seattle then please let us know) so we're not sure that we'll be able to get enough power off of that to be cost effective. We'll figure this out after the move.

Will H. recently gave me a great mandoline (manual veg slicer) so we'll keep that as well as our manual juicer, some utensils, a few dishes, pans, cups and a favorite cutting board. The Champion Juicer stays for a while but will go at some point. I use it often now but haven't yet decided how often I'll use it after the move; they're expensive to replace.

We're looking to downsize, not to live like we're punishing ourselves. Voluntary simplicity can be comfortable. Keep the things you need and use and get rid of the rest.

What goes?

Things we don't use often or at all anymore include a food processor, microwave, crock pot, Foreman grill, toaster, Ronco food dehydrator, rice maker, blender, hand mixer, lots of towels, sheets and clothes along with the before-mentioned tools and most books.

Important papers will be scanned and kept on disk. Antique family photos will be scanned and my brother will get the originals. None of these will be missed.

What brings you happiness?
I'm not a 'recreational shopper' but my teenage son does outgrow his clothes so I do occasionally find myself in a store and sometimes I do get an urge to buy a nifty-new-thingy just because I'm there.

I try to remember that money spent on something that I don’t truly need now, takes away from other areas in my life where it could be more enjoyably used. I love to travel, attend live performances and take classes. Now, before I purchase something, I make much more of an effort to ask if how I’m spending my hard-earned cash will actually make me happy.

Usually, I know that the item-of-interest will only be used for a short time before I get bored with it, it exists but I don't really see it, or it gets stored in a closet. Instead of buying one, can I borrow the nifty-new-thingy from a friend? Can I rent one for a couple of days just for 'the experience'? I remind myself that once its life with me is done that I will spend more time and energy getting rid of it and I know I'll be doing the environment a favor by borrowing or renting rather than buying too.

Have you downsized your possessions or changed your spending habits? How and why?


  1. It's amazingly liberating to offload years of accumulated STUFF, isn't it?

    I'm curious, will you be using a scanning service for photos, or doing it on your own? I have roughly a shoebox sized box of photos that I don't want to take with me, but I don't want to loose them either...I'm looking at several online services, but additional input is appreciated!

  2. I think the idea is to scan 'em to save money.

  3. I'm sure this is far to late, but I'vve only just now found your site and I've been enjoying reading through it. Congrats on your work thus far.

    Using a stop on a low flow shower head will cause the on demand water heater to shut off, meaning when your turn it on, you get a short blast of "normal" and then a blast of cold until the heater is back on and working to capacity again. Just something to think about.


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