With their large house in the perfect neighborhood, the Morrisons thought they were living the American dream.Soon, the strain of living in a spacious abode began to weigh on their energy levels and their environmental impact.
“It went from comfort to resentment,” Gabriella Morrison explained. “We didn’t have time to enjoy the house because we had to work so much more to pay for it.”
Luckily, the Morrisons found a simple solution to their woes: They joined the tiny house movement. The members share the same ideal that living in small spaces can lead to less complicated lives and less waste.
After reading “The Small House Book” by Jay Shaffer, the Morrisons got rid of 50 percent of their items within six months. Soon after, Gabriella, her husband, Andrew, and their daughter, Terra, sold their house, bought a pop-up tent trailer and moved to Baja California, Mexico.
“Something about living in that teeny tiny pop-up trailer, we were finally able to connect with each other. It has lasted all this time. The changes that we experienced — I daresay, it was really permanent,” Gabriella said.
Wanting to continue their success, Gabriella and Andrew moved to Ashland, Oregon and built a 350-square-foot trailer, including loft spaces, to live in. The structure contains two full sized beds, a working/eating area, a full kitchen, a comfortable bathroom and a lounge area for guests.
To make sure they are keeping green, Andrew puts a special focus on effectively cooling and heating their place. The high ceilings and multiple windows help keep the place breezy. A gas burning fireplace helps warm the home and allows them to turn off the device if they aren’t around. Keeping their home small enables them to use less energy to accomplish both tasks.
The most expensive piece of “furniture” in the Morrison trailer was a $1,400 composting toilet, a dry toilet that allows human waste to be turned into “humanure.”
They also purchase smaller-sized items they know that they can finish instead of buying in bulk, so they don’t have excessive products and create more waste. Plus, there’s no extra storage space in their small abode.
“The whole Costco (warehouse shopping) thing is an unbelievable myth and farce,” Gabriella explained. “You go in and see these amazing deals. The amount of things that went to waste was shocking. It’s just too much. You can’t go though 40 bars of soap in a lifetime.”
Three and a half years after making this choice, they have purged 80 percent of their belongings. They live by rule that if they don’t use something in the last 365 days, they toss it.
The Morrisons do own one storage unit, but are planning to sell most of the items inside. They allow themselves one Tupperware each of heirlooms. Anything that they’ve formed an emotional attachment to but don’t really need, they take a photograph of to keep it in their memories, but throw the item away.
Admittedly, the space is a bit too small when their two kids come home from boarding school, so they’ve built Terry a small cabin 100 feet away where she can study and sleep.
And now that his life is simpler, Andrew is starting a tree house project with his 17-year-old son so he can have a place nearby. It’s something he always promised him since he was a child.
“Now, we can finally do it — although the scope of the tree house has got a lot more complicated,” he added laughing.