Creating Sustainable Mobile Homes

The front of the soon to be bus home, pre editing

So yesterday I posted an article regarding the nature of the bus idea, my bold approach to a self sustainable lifestyle, today I want to discuss how I plan to create this self sustaining machine on the go. So here I want to go through the basic design, the essentials and the necessities and also some of the big roadblocks. Because creating a self sustaining machine is a fairly large task and well since all of it is currently in the theory stage this could not all be 100% spot on.

The bus is somewhere around 30 to 34 feet in the back, which is the living space, the dimensions are roughly 7 feet by 30 feet creating a space that is 210 square feet of home. This of course will be filled with all the things a house needs and will certainly restrict the available floor space. However there is still plenty of useable space, since what is added still is useable. Let’s start right in the back of the bus, we will start with the bathroom and move forward through the kitchen, living room and finally bedroom. Keep in mind this is a bus, everything is designed to keep as much of the windows available for a 360 degree panoramic view of the world, plus all the additional natural light. The centre of the aisle is kept clear of anything to allow one straight line of sight throughout the vehicle, there is little privacy but in the end privacy isn’t really needed.

The washroom consists of two rooms at the back of the bus, I figured it would be best to keep the undesirable near the back and allow for the front portion to be communal and open. I hate the number of places that create a wet bathroom, where everything is in one, the sink and toilet get wet and so on. So I made the decision to split the bathroom and create two rooms in the back. One room is completely designated to the shower, a full room encased in metal to create a waterproof shower stall. On the other side there will be a room with dedicated vanity counter and storage as well as the toilet. I chose to put in a composting toilet out of pure frugality, a composting toilet is the simplest of toilets and costs virtually nothing, browse around and you’ll find an article about them on my blog. So the two rooms allow for two separate bathroom spaces that are private enough and could both be used at the same time if needed. Behind the washrooms there will be two closet spaces on either side, these will store the water needed and also they will store any overflow storage and items that need to be hung up in a closet space. I want to keep a spare tent in here for extra people to camp with us, however to is hard to evaluate what can go in there until it is built.

Next section we have is the kitchen, it breaks the clean line of the bus and I am not sure how bad this will look but it narrows the counters down creating almost an extra foot of aisle space, which in my mind is needed when there are two counter surfaces and potentially multiple people to work with. The main utility will be the sink, most likely powered by a high pressure foot pump. This way the water isn’t wasted because you will pump exactly as you need, there will be a water tank and I would hate to be wasteful. Next up I plan to have two regular power induction burners that can be stowed away as to not waste counter space. These will plug into a regular socket and will run off the solar power, I would recommend these are only used during the day as they would probably drain the batteries really quickly. Other than these two things the kitchen contains no real utilities, nothing is grid tied and there is nothing like that. I am looking at hand powered espresso makers and blenders, we will see how that plays out. Otherwise the kitchen is comprised of plenty of open counter space and a system of drawers that allow for extended counter space, as well as space to store all food and utensils needed.

The most versatile area of the bus will be the seating area, this is a general living room that also becomes the dining room, work space, and a spare bedroom if needed. The idea is to ensure all the furniture serves a double purpose, which is important in any tiny home lifestyle, of course this is suited to my needs. There are two rows of seats, each one with 4 seat sections, these serve as the living room, a communal seating area. One of the sections on both sides will lift to become a table, that each can seat 2 people meaning that this will allow for a dining room area without obstruction. Next there is one seat on either side that is simply dedicated to storage inside of the seat, that idea is still in the works and I am debating maybe adding the potential for an extra bed. Finally the two seats that are covering the wheel well in the bus fold out and join together to form one large queen size bed, measuring 5 feet by 7 feet. The cushions are all made of a high density foam and will be custom made with slip covers to provide a finished look.

Finally we reach the bedroom, which is actually the front of the bus, this section opens up to the driver’s cabin and serves as seats when driving so the driver doesn’t feel alone. So this section comprises of two beds, each one is fairly high up because inside the bed is flat storage and underneath there is drawers for additional storage. In total we figure there is enough for two or three wardrobe’s worth of clothing inside the bed. One of the beds slide over to create a queen size bed and at the same time they reveal a second single mattress hidden below, meaning you are never sacrificing a bed space.

The driver’s cabin remains as is there isn’t much too it, I plan to re panel the front to create the same natural wooden look. Just use thin plywood to finish off the cabin and create a nice friendly look the whole way through. This may also help the appearance as you enter the bus as I am keeping the main access to the front, this will allow for more room and a cleaner look all the way through, also I plan to include the driver’s cabin in the bus instead of completely walling it off.

When it comes to some of the huge roadblocks that I will cover in other articles there are things such as the power demand, creating energy, drainage, and keeping enough water on board. The space is fine it is mainly the utilities that worry me.

Thanks for stopping by and reading today’s bit on the bus, if you like this keep checking back I plan to keep a very detailed log of this journey and how it all works out.
Have an amazing day!


Downsizing and Life Editing

Today I really want to touch on the concept of life editing and the need for such a thing in not only our lives as North Americans but also for really anyone. The 21st century is completely obsessed with commercialism and advertising and consumerism. Now I won’t convince you to run away and live in a cabin in a forest far from the tax man but I do want to talk about life editing in a world where we have been taught to consume.

First why is downsizing important? Why should I downsize when I can own three cars, a mansion and have tons of money? Well downsizing is important for so many different reasons, first off it is important to our own sanity. Why is it that our homes are much larger than 20 years ago and yet we still can’t find a spot for all the things we own. Doesn’t that tell you that maybe you have too much stuff or maybe you are possessing too much? The american dream is no longer of freedom and expression or acceptance, it has become about consumerism and possession. It is not a healthy thing to keep as the “american dream” because that means many other people are trying to accomplish this dream all over the world because they see how wealthy our nation is, and yet no one sees the damage of this. Many current issues with society and the way we consume things has caused a ripple effect, we are causing problems in other countries and other places because of our consumerism, this isn’t healthy and not something we should be proud of let alone inspiring the rest of the world to partake in. Downsizing is important because it is trying to make a mentality shift in people and show the world that consumerism and possession isn’t a happy way of life, it isn’t fulfilling to own a lot of things, it is nice and something to brag about, but it isn’t happiness. We need to start taking steps to show that the american dream isn’t about multiple cars and big houses, we need to show them that it is about a happy, comfortable life, living within means and having the essentials. The american dream should be something like having freedom, expression, and essentials, shelter, water, food, security and love. Some places don’t even have proper water.

Now life editing, that is a fairly new word isn’t it, well the definition is simple it is exactly editing your life. This is important because many of us do not live a sustainable lifestyle, especially the ones who are the biggest consumers, it is hard to live sustainably when all your meals come in packaging and your waste is more than your actual possessions. Life editing is all about learning how to bring your life down to a manageable, sustainable and happy lifestyle. Often a critical point is the actual space we use, we don’t need 2000 square feet to live, in fact many people are living and managing quite well in under 500 square feet. So evaluating the size of space you need to live, this is something that helps your finances and also teaches a lesson in frugality, you learn to keep the things you need and nothing more, you buy something, you get rid of something, there is no excess, there is just balance. Learning what we need instead of what we want is a very freeing experience and we learn just how much consumerism has taken over our lives, once you realize that it is amazing.

These two steps don’t mean you have to live in a studio apartment, with the bare essentials and so on, it just means that you take steps to make your life more sustainable and easier to manage. You are taking steps towards a better life through simplicity and downsizing. Discovering that there is more to life than that sale or that new product, instead we start living with what we need, we become more relaxed and more comfortable in our space and we realize that excess doesn’t bring happiness.

As always thank you for reading, I know today was short but I plan to continue this thought in other articles. I hope you either learned or gained something and I hope you have an amazing day!

A Sustainable Life is a Good Life (Introduction)

Have you ever seen a landfill? A junkyard? Or for that matter any other place we dispose of goods and waste. Well if you have you will see these mountains of trash, these huge spaces covered by supposed garbage. If you have seen these than maybe you will have thought about how much excess we use, just how much we waste and that there must be some way of changing that. It’s so true, there is a way to change it and it starts with learning to live a more sustainable life.

I don’t want to go into huge details but I want to visit this subject along the same lines as simplicity and minimalism. By simplifying our life and bringing things down to the essentials we can maybe learn to minimize our impact on the environment. The benefits of consuming less is pretty clear, I mean you have less stuff to organize and clean, you have fewer but more valuable possessions and you are saving money. So in theory a more sustainable life is better right? So if it is as good as I say then why haven’t more people hopped on board? Well the reality is that as North Americans we have just grown accustomed to excess, we are used to having too much, whether that be space or possessions, either way we have learned to want and possess more.

Some small facts about excess include: Westernized places account for over 60% of the world’s spending. The US accounts for 5% of the population in 2004 and 33% of the world’s consumption. We are targeted by over 1500 commercial advertisements per day, as opposed to 500 in the 60’s.

I don’t know about you but those kinds of statistics scare me, the fact that the North American population isn’t too big but yet accounts for the majority of the world’s consumption is terrifying. Places that are extremely dense with population still consume less than us, as a whole we are obsessed with consumption in the forms of fast food, products, and housing. Even in housing we have changed drastically. In the 1900’s the typical american house consisted of 700-1200 square feet for 2-3 bedrooms and a whole family. Now the typical american house is around or over 2000 square feet, and this is for a small family and even just a couple. Did you know that when building a home in the states there is a minimum square footage required for building a home? Most of these are above 1200 square feet minimum depending on the area, that means today’s minimum is bigger than the 1900’s maximum. Two people can somehow occupy 1000’s of square feet and it’s completely okay, but if someone tries to build something less than that minimum it isn’t zoned properly and it doesn’t classify as a home. See how we are working against sustainability here?

Ever notice that while living in a large home you still can’t seem to find a place for everything? We somehow still have too much stuff, and it isn’t even like people this is material items. After the statistics above how is it even possible that two people or a small family can have too much stuff to fill a space that is bigger than ever before. So why is it that we still have too much stuff even though we have more storage space than ever before? This is where a great term called life editing comes in. There is a man named Graham Hill that I stumbled upon a while back, he lives in purposely small spaces and manages to live and work just fine, he is still demanding a home office, living room, bedroom, spare room, full kitchen and not giving up amenities but yet he still manages to live in spaces that are under 500 square feet. Now yes Graham is a single guy in these situations but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to downsize. There are couples living in tiny houses built on trailers that are less than a 100 square feet, so what’s your excuse for needing more than a thousand? How is it that you still have too much stuff?

The concepts of sustainable life are simple, you edit your current lifestyle, you remove the junk from your life and you learn to let go and downsize. I will never stop throwing the idea of letting go out there because it is so vital to life. You can’t hold on to the material goods in our life, is that waffle maker increasing your daily happiness? Probably not. I went from a busy family home, and I’ve moved and rented spaces all over, from people’s houses, to people’s basements to my own house. Through each experience I was surrounded by excess, not my own per say but everyone else. It is ridiculous that someone can have a house so filled with things they never use.

For a sustainable life we need to learn to edit, let go and find multipurpose. These aren’t difficult, because once you learn to let go the rest is really simple. Bringing things down to the bare essentials is great because it means that you have everything you need, which means everything has a place and everything has a use. Finding multipurpose is also really important because it means that we can have even less without sacrificing everything we need. Whether this means a sofa that is a bed, a table that changes sizes, and so on, it just means we can have less without sacrificing our needs. I believe to this day I could pack my entire house into the back of a van and move on without a huge hassle, to me that is a beautiful feeling, I can pick up and move on at a moment’s notice without losing everything I need.

I hope you are beginning to see how simplicity and minimalism can be more beneficial than excess, and maybe you too will eventually be inspired to change your habits and maybe downsize a bit. With an ever growing population and a shortage of space we need to learn to downsize otherwise the future is going to be really difficult. When the future comes I would rather be living in a really nice, multifunctional, small space than in a big house. While the world is struggling to find space and everyone needs a spot to live I would rather know that I am doing my part to live small and not being one of the people who are living in excess. I want to be an innovator, I don’t want to be stuck in the same trend as the rest of the nation. For the future to go smoothly we need to learn to downsize and take the space we need as opposed to the space we want. This all starts with downsizing, life editing and multipurpose planning, these simple concepts can be applied throughout our lives and will help us move forward into a more secure, more sustainable future.

I’m going to continue a series on sustainability here and we will address many different aspects of the life that could go through some editing and downsizing. Stay tuned for those articles.
Thanks for reading today’s kind of lengthy article and I hope this opened your eyes a bit to the crazy changes our world has made in a short span of time, maybe this has inspired you to take up some changes, even coming back to read more on sustainability is a step and I thank you for being here to take it.
Have an awesome day!