The Small Space Directory – tiny houses, mobile studios, and small spaces

The tiny house world is scattered, and sometimes it’s difficult to get a good sense of how many of us there are, where we are, and the different technologies we’re using in our homes and studios (art, office, etc). This community-owned directory is here to change that: it’s free and viewable by anyone. Connect with others by viewing the directory here (http://bit.ly/1TruEOo) and add your own tiny home project via the form below.

NOTE: THIS DIRECTORY IS ONLY FOR PROJECTS THAT HAVE BEGUN (OR COMPLETED) PHYSICAL BUILDING OF THE HOUSE OR STUDIO. If you’re looking to start a build, for builders, or for other tiny house enthusiasts, there’s a great listing of others over at tinyhousemap.com.

WHY THIS DIRECTORY?

For the last three years we’ve been answering questions from people wanting to find other tiny house or small space owners to learn about the technologies they use in their spaces and to find similarly – minded folks in a certain region.  While the tiny house map exists and is a great resource, it doesn’t have much information regarding the technologies used in small space projects. It’s also hard to query specific information about a project – for instance, show me all tiny houses that are on wheels and are less than 20 feet.  Or show me all tiny houses in California with off-grid water systems. This tiny house directory will feed an online interactive map which you will be able to query by project attribute: location, technology, design features, number of inhabitants, art studio, on foundation or on wheels, etc.

Because this directory is an open data project it also means any of you creative types will be able to use this data to create your own apps or maps for your site.  For instance, perhaps you take the data and create a map for your region or state or for your meetup group – symbolizing it however you’d like – there are many possibilities and the more folks who contribute to the directory the better data we all will have access to.

So, if you have a tiny house or small studio already (or are currently building one) – on a foundation or on a trailer – please fill out the directory form and come back in a few weeks to check out the map!

Any questions about this project or data, please email us at support@boneyardstudios.org.

Link to directory: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Mf2hrUSf6ymHEaZrzXjYLkE-QKY1_fUocki2hgbYjdE/viewform

NOTE: this is a community resource and open data project meaning anyone will be able to see the data and use it, so please only fill out information about your project that you feel comfortable sharing.

Managing media’s fascination with tiny houses

I remember how scared we all were to do the first piece of press on our tiny house communal project here in DC.  We were worried how the city might react, we were worried about the safety of our houses, and we were worried about allowing portions of our lives to be on public display. Since doing countless interviews over the last two years though I’ve realized that you quickly must develop thick skin (or refuse to read the press you do which has become my strategy!).

And, no matter what, never read the comments!

You get the purely negative (often political) comments like:

Block the communist revolution in America that is forcing millions of families into shacks.

Will these dressed-up closets be the new McMansions in Obamaville?

You get the funny:

A midget could catch the devil in one of them teeny, tiny little houses.

Instead of an address, you get a Dewey Decimal number.

And you get the personal:

I see many cats, hard candy and quiet time in her future

I wouldn’t even go out on date let alone sleep with a man if he lived in one of these homes. There are certain standards in life you have to stand by and this is one of them

Details will be reported incorrectly, stories will be embellished and twisted, people will send you hateful messages, and, no matter how you try to put on a positive face about your project, the media will search for drama (even if there is none).  Despite these risks, we’ve had a positive experience with most media even if it hasn’t always been the angle we were expecting as was the case this January when Franklyn Cater from NPR called me to follow up about a piece he had started on Boneyard Studios last summer.  Something about those soothing NPR voices just instill a sense of comfort and trust, so I agreed to catch up with him provided he didn’t focus on any drama. Thankfully, he didn’t fail us – producing a well-rounded story about microhousing in the city.

However, after this piece went live I started receiving questions from folks in the tiny house community and the media. It turns out that our old blog was redirecting to a new site with misinformation posted about our houses and the city, and some media have since reprinted that information.  This is the downside of being so public with a project: when things go less than ideal, the media also jump on that opportunity.  At the end of the day what is written about me and my house doesn’t matter as it only impacts me, but reprinting misinformation about city policy and tiny houses impacts us all.*  Many of us in the tiny house community across the U.S. have worked hard over the last few years to show cities that tiny houses can be a (small) part of affordable and creative housing solutions.  And Washington, DC – both the city and many of its residents – have been largely intrigued and supportive of the idea of tiny houses, much more so than any of us expected.

Since we started our projects, we’ve seen the interest in tiny houses boom.  What’s great about that growing interest is that there are opportunities for more projects, each with their unique foci. Working together and supporting other tiny house organizations, companies, and enthusiasts only makes all of our endeavors more successful, and we feel fortunate to have hosted many of you for visits and events, and to have been graciously hosted by you when visiting your cities and supported by you in our transition to a new space.

Yes, things ended on messy terms on the lot where we all founded Boneyard Studios, but I am trying to see the split as beneficial for tiny house enthusiasts overall – there will now be more space to engage with tiny houses: a space for people to build and tour showcase homes at the alley lot owned by Minim Homes, and a new (and hopefully larger) space for Boneyard Studios to continue hosting arts and tiny house events (as we’ve done through our tiny house concert series, workshops, tiny house plays, open houses, and meetups).

While we cannot offer formal, public tours of the Matchbox and Pera houses at this time, we are continuing with our events and appreciate the local businesses who have reached out to offer us space.  We want to thank Wooly Mammoth for inviting us to be a part of their connectivity series with their play Cherokee this past Fall and Winter, and we also are excited to announce that our Spring tiny house meetup will be hosted by Bardo Brewpub.

Although the media’s fascination with tiny houses has grown a bit out of control, I’m hoping those of us in the tiny house community can remind them what we’re all about. We are passionate and engaged people who care about the future of our cities and towns and the increasing lack of affordable housing and arts space. We are innovative people finding ways to create stability with houses built not on a foundation but built on the reality that we live in a society with a diminishing formal safety net but, hopefully, an increasing community safety net. And we are resourceful people building homes that we don’t have to work the rest of our lives to pay for, giving us a sense of creative control over our lives and allowing us the time and space to become more engaged citizens in the places we live.

*I know politicians and government are easy scapegoats; however, our niche (yet growing) movement of small and sustainable living has a hard enough time already with mainstream acceptance to be spreading mistruths about them.  To clarify a few of the main ones that have mentioned the city:

  1. DC did not change its policy on tiny houses (there is, however, a zoning rewrite which addresses Accessory Dwelling Units).
  2. The city did not kick off nor threaten to tow any tiny houses off the property on Evarts St. (where we started the Boneyard Studios community).
  3. We are unsure whether or not a DC council member ever complained about noise from tiny house construction on the property, but there is currently another house being built there now so hopefully not.
  4. There has been confusion about waste.  (The Pera house had an incinerating toilet for almost two years before upgrading to a Swedish Separette toilet last summer (the same system the Matchbox house has). During a meeting with city planners this past fall we learned that an architect/developer proposing a container project in DC is designing his units to use the Separette as well, and we are happy to see these new off-grid options taking hold in the U.S.)

What happened with Boneyard Studios?

UPDATE: Tiny house communities are about dwelling in harmony, not dwelling on drama. We’re no longer at our old lot, but fear not: Boneyard Studios is still hosting tours, concerts, and other awesome events at a new location.

We’re thrilled to share our story of supporting small, sustainable urban infill, but don’t really have an interest in continuing to talk about why we left the old lot. We appreciate you respecting our privacy, and welcome any questions you may have about other things at support@boneyardstudios.org.

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Right-sizing the “tiny” in “tiny house”

I have a confession to make: I don’t actually live in a tiny house. Oh, sure, my house is small—very small by relative standards. But is it tiny? Hardly.

We Americans tend to do everything in excess, including the words we use to describe our very lack of excess. Way back in 2008, when the big house movement was bursting (or, depending on your metaphor, collapsing under its own gargantuan weight), the New York Times ran a little article about a then-little thing: it was called the small house movement. Not tiny, just, well, small.

Or not. The piece also featured the word tiny eight times, including one of the first recorded uses of “tiny house” in novelty-new quotations. Its sidebar offered to enlarge images of unlarge homes floating over captions like “the Lilliputian life.” Four years later, when Boneyard Studios had its own press debut, the Washington Post ran with the headline “Home, Squeezed Home.” “The people aren’t really tiny,” the article began, “but their homes are.”

I’m not here to chastise those who use the word tiny. It’s a cute word and a human-interest-story-friendly word and probably not too harmful a word overall, but it is a silly one, a word that I hope—excuse the kinda-sorta pun—we will all soon outgrow. To call something tiny is to call it “extremely small,” “unusually small,” “diminutive.” It suggests that living in something that offers a great big one- or two- or three-hundred square feet of space is “extreme.” Over-the-top words like Lilliputian and squeezed make matters even worse.

Here’s the thing: I’ve lived in my house—my small house—for nearly three years, and I’ve never really felt “squeezed.” I’ve never felt like big oafy Gulliver stumbling around the court of Lilliput, nor have I felt that a queen-sized bed (large enough for royalty, apparently) and ten feet of counter space underneath five-foot windows was an “extreme” lifestyle. Yes, I’ve made space sacrifices, but I’d be lying if I said my house was diminutive. It’s just smaller than most.

I got back from India a week ago, where for over a month I walked by flimsy fortifications of tarp and twig. These were tiny. They housed families of five or ten in half the space my own home afforded, and I imagined the residents of these little hamlets building thin roofs of old magazines and newspapers printed with stories of Americans “giving it all up” to “live tiny.” I imagined what they would think.

But this is hardly the point. Sure, tiny is a privileged word for a privileged people (myself among them), but more dangerously, tiny actually accepts the American housing norms and agrees to live within them. It doesn’t present itself as a spark to the system, a disruptive force here to stay, but rather a fringe outside the walls of the mainstream: something for the extremists, the misfits, the freaks. It’s a word that begs to vault itself over the swollen bell curve and just keep going, to soak itself up in novelty until it’s simply too saturated to be taken seriously.

To call a 150-square-foot house tiny is to accept that 3.000 square feet of home is normal, and frankly, it’s not normal. It’s unnecessarily and unsustainably large. Calling a few hundred square feet small, on the other hand, suggests a whole different degree of deviation from the norm. A slighter deviation. It imagines something a little more compact than what should be. It is the right-sizing to tiny’s down-sizing—one a proud reality, the other a subtle apology to the status quo.

Does this mean we’re going to re-label Boneyard Studios a “small house community”? Probably not. Does it mean we’re going to stop using the word tiny? Doubtful—it has already escaped my lips so many times I’m sure I’ll never fully flush it from my system. Does it mean you should do the same? Not at all—you do you, and if it means calling your less-than-large house “tiny,” so be it, and congratulations to you for having a less-than-large house to begin with.

But it does mean I’m going to be more conscious about what tiny really signifies, and more appreciative of the great abundance of space and storage my small house offers. It means I’m going to do my small part to remind folks that one-hundred-and-fifty square feet isn’t “extremely” anything—it’s just, you know, a perfectly right-sized space for my right-sized needs.

My house isn’t tiny. And it’s definitely not “micro” or “Lilliputian” or some other silly, hyperbolic, PR-packaged superlative. My house is just plain ol’ boringly circa-1910 or circa-2015-in-most-other-places-around-the-world “small,” and that’s something I’m more-than-a-tiny-bit grateful for.

Big enough for love is big enough for me.

Big enough for love is big enough for me.

New Year, New Locations for the Tiny Homes

As our search for new tiny house community space continues into 2015, we’ve spent a good bit of the past six months meeting with city officials, developers, and private landowners about some promising potential properties and partnerships. But after thinking hard about our vision and reflecting on what we’ve learned from the experiences of our last location, we prefer to purchase land that we can create and cultivate in a more permanent way.

In the meantime, though, we’ve needed temporary spaces for our tiny house community-in-exile, so we’re very excited and appreciative that our houses found temporary spots in a pair of yards in a Northeast DC neighborhood. Unfortunately organized tours will be on hiatus until we’re permanently settled, but in the meantime, here are some shots of the Pera House and Matchbox moves—many thanks to our friend Robin of Build Tiny for her expert tiny house moving skills.

Pera House move

Matchbox move

Game of thrones: a head-to-head comparison of toilets for a tiny house

Let’s talk about toilets.

It’s a taboo subject, I know. We’re not supposed to talk about it at dinner, or on first dates, or even with close friends or lifelong partners or twin siblings. But everyone does it, as they say, and every house needs one, or just about, so let’s just set the queasiness aside for a moment and jump right into it (the topic, not the toilet)—a personal journey through, and head-to-head comparison of, types of toilets for tiny houses.

Incinerator

One thing you can do with waste is burn it. Incinerating toilets offer a neat, nearly-instant solution: do your business, push a button, and boil your bowel movements away, leaving nothing more than a sterile pile of ash in its chambers. And having used two of these Back to the Future-looking steel appliances in the early days of Boneyard Studios, I can confirm that, yeah, they get the job done. Basically, you open the lid, drop a paper liner atop a pair of closed metal jaws, and fill that liner with liquid or solid waste. When you’re done, you push a foot pedal, and those jaws open wide, and the paper package plummets to the bottom of the incinerator, which heats to 1,200 degrees for ninety minutes and incinerates whatever it can.

Cool, but shortcomings abound. For one, those jaws can sometimes get stuck, and loosening the hinges requires carefully reaching your hand into a container of, well, now-burning crap. Also, heating a small pan to 1,200 degrees for an hour and a half takes a lot of electricity—about 1.5kW per “flush,” to be exact. And that pan is small, meaning it must be heated after every use, liquid or solid, and then left alone for the better part of an hour. Incinerators work well for an individual, but during a Boneyard Studios party, it wasn’t uncommon for that pan to be filled more quickly than it could empty, leaving the floor of the bathroom covered with spilled, steaming piss. Gross.

They’re noisy, too: a grinding hum that fills small spaces quickly. And the exhaust, of course, must be vented out. I’ll admit, the smell of burning human waste isn’t as bad as you might think, but there definitely is a smell, and it’s one that’ll fill your house and then waft into the open windows of neighbors without their welcome—not the best for respecting boundaries in an urban neighborhood.

Finally, Incinolets create an intensely hot fire in your home everyday. They seem safe, and are pretty well put together in sealed-up steel, but there is an unavoidable fire risk, and in small spaces, fire is a big no-no.

So when you have to go-go, incinerators are probably not the best bet. Despite all their shortcomings, incinerators cost about $2,000 new (a shortcoming in itself), and thus aren’t really recommended for the small house dweller on a budget (or anyone, for that matter).

  • Effectiveness (how well it gets rid of waste): 5/5
  • Odorlessness (how good it smells): 3/5
  • Quietness (how quiet it is): 2/5
  • Cleanliness (how much it stays, or feels, clean): 4/5
  • Affordability (how reasonably priced it is): 1/5
  • Ease (how easy it is to use, maintain, and provide to guests): 4/5
  • Total: 19/30

Honeybucket

After a few unpleasant months trying out the Incinolets of Brian and Lee (Lee has since upgraded to a Separett, discussed later), I punted my decision-making down the road by picking up a five-gallon bucket from the hardware store, building what many affectionately refer to as the “honeybucket.” It works like this: there’s a bucket. You open the lid and do your thing. When you’re done doing your thing, you cover everything with sawdust and close the lid.

My sister and brother, who live out on an intentional community in Missouri, use these everywhere. They call them Fillmores, ’cause President Fillmore was the last president to have a non-plumbed toilet in the White House, and I was always impressed by how odorless they were in their outhouses. The innards of honeybuckets are typically composted as well—a great benefit over using electricity to burn away rich future soil. They’re cheap to build (about $6 for a bucket, and $7 for a top-of-the-line airtight lid), obviously totally noiseless, and they don’t take up much space. The dimensions and contours of a five-gallon bucket (with aforementioned airtight lid) provide a pretty decent seat. All in all, not a bad functioning toilet for $13.

But not great, either. For one, you need to find something to do with the bucket when it’s full. That’s easy if you live on a farm, but a little more tricky if you’re tethered to a city. They require sawdust (or a substitute) to absorb moisture and neutralize odors. When building a house, sawdust is plentiful; afterwards, rummaging through Home Depot’s dustpails becomes a necessity. And undoubtedly, that sawdust will get everywhere, leaving the bathroom with an inescapably “unclean” feeling. The toilet itself never really feels clean: it is, after all, a bucket full of soggy waste, and we humans have evolved to feel a natural squeamishness around such piles. In the warmer months, a few gnats might hang around the lid, or start a whole colony in your bathroom if the lid isn’t airtight. I didn’t find it too difficult to use the honeybucket on my own, but I always felt a little self-conscious having friends over: a tutorial is needed, and they’re looking at your last bowel movement, and you’re later looking at theirs, and it’s just, well, not ideal. Ultimately, in the words of one Matchbox YouTube commenter: “I love this innovative space but can’t help but think of when he brings home a partner and tells them they have to shit in a bucket.”

  • Effectiveness (how well it gets rid of waste): 3/5
  • Odorlessness (how good it smells): 3/5
  • Quietness (how quiet it is): 5/5
  • Cleanliness (how much it stays, or feels, clean): 1/5
  • Affordability (how reasonably priced it is): 5/5
  • Ease (how easy it is to use, maintain, and provide to guests): 3/5
  • Total: 20/30

Honeybucket 2.0

After months of using a standard honeybucket, I opted for a few upgrades. Like many do, I had a little chest built around the bucket, and screwed a seat to that chest, so it looked a bit more like a latrine than a bright orange pail. I started lining the bucket with a black garbage bag, making it much easier to empty the bucket when it was full. And most importantly, I turned a wide-mouthed funnel into a urine diverter, separating liquids and solids.

If there were a documentary of Boneyard Studios, this would undoubtedly be the scene of comic relief after a tense build setback or dramatic plot twist: me and Tony, my builder, crammed in the darkness of the Matchbox bathroom, holding a funnel centered over a bucket, and then slowly moving it closer to the front, and then back again, eyeing each other, asking “does that look right?”, trying to figure out, crudely, approximately where women pee from when seated on a toilet. Thankfully, we placed the funnel correctly, and the next day the Matchbox was sporting a totally functional and totally unisex honeybucket 2.0. By separating solids and diverting liquids into the ground, smells were improved, the toilet had to be emptied far less frequently (most waste, of course, is liquid), and sawdust wasn’t needed after every pee. Plus, it just looked better.

Nonetheless, swapping out an airtight seal for a standard lid welcomed gnats in the summer months, and the urine diverter had to be plumbed through the floor, adding time and cost to an otherwise $13 toilet. The chest took work and wood, and it almost became more difficult to instruct people on how to use the thing. It went from “just dump sawdust on top of everything” to “if you’re a guy, aim into the funnel; if you’re a girl, act natural; but either way, make sure no sawdust gets in the funnel,” and undoubtedly, sawdust got in the funnel. Sawdust got in the funnel, and clogged the pipes, and after spending three hours after a Boneyard Studios party snaking through clogs of urine-drenched sawdust, I decided the upgraded honeybucket wasn’t much of an upgrade at all.

  • Effectiveness (how well it gets rid of waste): 4/5
  • Odorlessness (how good it smells): 3/5
  • Quietness (how quiet it is): 5/5
  • Cleanliness (how much it stays, or feels, clean): 1/5
  • Affordability (how reasonably priced it is): 4/5
  • Ease (how easy it is to use, maintain, and provide to guests): 2/5
  • Total: 19/30

Composter

With the honeybucket part of my life over, I considered what was next. A composting toilet seemed a worthy solution—it’s still just a plastic container, more or less, but it looks like a toilet, and diverts urine in a much more streamlined way, and with a little fan and a little turning rod, it actually begins composting waste while it’s in use.

The key word, here, is begin. Their price (around $1,000) would be justifiable if they really got the job done, but they don’t: they just start it. What that means is that they just don’t have enough room to really keep waste for a full composting cycle (about two years left alone, or at least three months if assisted), so even with the substantial room they do take up (typically the entire footprint of a tiny bathroom), they must be emptied every month or so. Sometimes there’s a shovel involved, and still that problem of disposal. And unfortunately, one-month-composted crap is just about as gross as zero-month-composted crap; at the end of the day, you’re shoveling shit.

I should note, though, that I never actually owned a composting toilet—just used a few and read more reviews than I’d ever imagined I would—so consider these (already subjective) ratings with a grain of sawdust:

  • Effectiveness (how well it gets rid of waste): 2/5
  • Odorlessness (how good it smells): 4/5
  • Quietness (how quiet it is): 4/5
  • Cleanliness (how much it stays, or feels, clean): 4/5
  • Affordability (how reasonably priced it is): 2/5
  • Ease (how easy it is to use, maintain, and provide to guests): 1/5
  • Total: 19/30

Composting toilet, meet honeybucket

I was in the throes of despair about what to do with my waste when Lee arrived on the lot one day with a big white box. It contained a Separett 9200 (I wasn’t asked or paid to plug the Separett; I just think it’s the most magical thing in the whole world), a toilet that’s something of a hybrid between a composter and a honeybucket. On the outside, it looks like a composting toilet: uninspired white plastic, a proper urine diverter toward the front and a hole for solids toward the back. There was a fan, and it required venting outside, and a tiny bit of electricity to make the fan go. Yet on the inside, it was nothing more than a honeybucket: a wide, shallow tub lined with a composting bag. But where the Separett really shone was in the barrier between the two, a simple blue spring-loaded plastic plate that sealed off the bucket when not in use and opened when weight (like, a butt) was put on the seat. That simple little barrier ensured the contents of the bucket were hidden from sight or smell, opening just for the moments of use and snapping shut before the Separett’s user even returned to her feet. Odors and pests are nonexistent thanks to the fan, sawdust isn’t even needed, and wrapping up one’s business almost feels too easy, as though one’s forgetting to flush, or put back a lid, or heap some neutralizer over their waste.

Is it perfect? Of course not. It requires a tiny bit of electricity, and it makes a tiny noise (though not enough to be heard outside the bathroom through a 3/8″ plywood door), and it takes up more room than a honeybucket, and that fan does have to run 24/7 or the odors emerge. Its use is fairly self-explanatory, but those who stand up before discarding their toilet paper will get a bit confused with what to do with it. And meanwhile, those who pee standing up will have to aim well or the surrounding area will get a little splatter. The plastic, though well-made, does feel a bit cheap, and the toilet, so well-made, definitely isn’t. At about $1,400, the Separett is a pricey investment, but after three-plus months of use, I’m certain it’ll be the last toilet the Matchbox ever needs.

  • Effectiveness (how well it gets rid of waste): 4/5
  • Odorlessness (how good it smells): 5/5
  • Quietness (how quiet it is): 4/5
  • Cleanliness (how much it stays, or feels, clean): 4/5
  • Affordability (how reasonably priced it is): 3/5
  • Ease (how easy it is to use, maintain, and provide to guests): 4/5
  • Total: 24/30

Rethinking the default: the flush toilet

I suppose this game of thrones wouldn’t really be complete without the reigning king of the toilet world: the iconic porcelain commode first popularized by Thomas Crapper. An unavoidable staple of industrialized nations (and now, sadly, industrializing ones as well), the standard flush toilet would undoubtedly score the highest in effectiveness, odorlessness, and ease, and do pretty well in the realms of quietness and affordability and cleanliness as well. Which leaves one to ask: why not just do what we’ve been doing, and outfit a small house with a regular flusher?

The simple answer is that flush toilets create blackwater (while urine can be safely diverted into the ground and diluted with nine parts greywater, solid waste cannot), and blackwater must be plumbed, and installing septic systems on unplumbed property is expensive, and when small houses are built on wheels, limiting where those wheels can travel to just specific places with existing pipes is totally unfortunate.

The not-so-simple answer, meanwhile, is that flush toilets are destroying our waters. Over a quarter of all water consumed in the home is used to flush waste down pipes. Older toilets typically average about 3.5 gallons of freshwater per flush; some use 5 or as many as 7 gallons. So when a guy needs to take a leak—the average leak being about 0.15 gallons—at a regular toilet, he’s flushing 23 parts freshwater and one part urine down the drain (why urine needs any help traveling down a drain is another question altogether). Low-flush toilets are better (they use about 1.6 gallons per flush), but still soil about 2,900 gallons of freshwater per person per year. And we’re just talking freshwater.

Remember, all that water has to go somewhere. We can treat it, and we sometimes do, and it’ takes massive resources to do so, and sometimes the chemicals we use to treat wastewater are harmless and sometimes we find out they’re actually pretty harmful after it’s way too late. But either way, we’re just flushing too much. When it rains in DC, and the stormdrains fill with rainwater, and a citydweller flushes the toilet, the overtaxed wastewater treatment plant simply can’t manage the volume, and it gets diverted to Rock Creek. And so, the urine and the bacteria-ridden excrement of an entire city flows into our once-pristine waterways, and the city tells us it is no longer safe to swim in the Creek, or even the greater Potomac River.

Shit flows downstream, as they say, and while we may be fine with ours piling up in our waterways, it isn’t really fair for us to make that decision for others down the river. I once had the privilege of speaking to a young man of Taos, a stunning pueblo village that had existed in what eventually came to be called New Mexico for over 1,300 years. It was the oldest continually-inhabited town in North America, and for over a millennium, its First Nations inhabitants had used the tiny creek running through it for everything: water to drink, to cook, to bathe and swim and play. And ten years ago, they stopped. Americans upstream had started dumping pollutants into it: the chemicals of waste treatment plants, the raw sewage of towns who couldn’t afford to treat their waste. Everything we flush goes somewhere, and affects something, and so in the quest for a safe, sustainable toilet, it’s probably best we don’t flush at all. Water’s a terrible thing to waste—especially when we’re wasting it for our waste.

This piece, like everything at boneyardstudios.org, is free for reuse under a Creative Commons license, so borrow and share and remix to your heart’s content. Thoughts about the options above, or have a sanitation solution that wasn’t mentioned? Drop it in the comments below!

Boneyard Studios gets a new domain!

Update your bookmarks, tiny house folks! In keeping with the non-profit nature of Boneyard Studios, we’re now at boneyardstudios.org. You’ll find all the content since the start of our little tiny house project right here at the new site, plus lots more content coming about tiny house design, tiny house living, and of course, our search for new space.

Thank you for two-and-a-half terrific years of support thus far—and many thanks for coming with us on our next big adventure. :)

Much love,
Lee & Jay
Boneyard Studios

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