Living Green by Living Downtown
Today, I’m happy to present a guest post by Kim Smith, who is part of our Living Large community. Kim lives in an older home, which is another way to live a green lifestyle:
I was honored when Kerri asked me to write about some aspect of “living large” family life in a smaller home. My family lives an hour or so from her, and while we share a common perspective on many things, some of our choices make our life look quite different.
When we moved to small-town Arkansas from big-city Florida, we sought out an old house near the downtown square. At about 1750 square feet, our circa-1916 home is considered by some to be a bit quaint and small to raise a modern family; we think it’s perfect. Many of our reasons for choosing it are “green” in nature:
1) Our home was constructed to make the most of the sun and wind– a necessity before the invention of air conditioning! Our southern windows are large; western and northern windows are small. This helps our energy consumption considerably– especially since we use open windows and fans whenever possible in summer, and use our clothes dryer heat to help heat the house in the winter.
2) Older homes were built before toxic materials like plastics and fiberglass were in use. Now, it was 1960’s ugly when we bought it, inside and out; but we’re getting to restore and renovate as we please, using nontoxic materials wherever possible.
3) A “walkable” neighborhood is a great environmental plus. Our downtown square is a few blocks away; so is the library, the city pool, and the big creekside city park. It’s a great environment for family walks!
4) Our four bedrooms are small, as was custom in the early 1900s… which limits the number of toys and belongings that we can fit into them. Forced simplicity!
5) Most old houses have an old garden spot out back– ours did. We killed some grass, added some organic matter, and started planting. (In the Ozarks, this is a major advantage, as we have more rocks than soil underground and preparing an in-ground garden is a major undertaking.)
6) By “recycling” a pre-existing home, we’re preventing tons of construction materials from being created (from raw materials) for a new building, while also preventing an older home full of old-growth woods and other sturdy materials from heading to the landfill as well.
7) Strangely, older downtown homes are a bargain in our real estate market; newer construction is much more expensive per square foot. Because we chose to live within our means in a smaller, older home, we’re now mortgage-free for the first time in our lives. I can’t begin to tell you how much freedom and peace of mind that gives us– as well as the satisfaction that we’re not sending a cent to the big mortgage companies that helped exacerbate our country’s current crisis.
I cannot deny that I read Kerri’s stories of “living large” and writing out in the woods with a twinge of envy– but we’re all in different seasons of life with different needs. For us, buying an older home in a walkable neighborhood was the perfect choice.
Thank you, Kim, for that post! I read your story and have a twinge of envy as well! I love older homes and if we didn’t live here, we would live in a smaller older home.
Kim has a question for the Living Large community:
Did you choose your current home with the planet in mind? What kind of “green” home do you hope to have in the future?
If you would like to write a guest post on Living Large about your small home, decluttering, preparing for a move or green living, it can be as short as a paragraph. Please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org (no photos until I get back with you!) Also, I will be posting some recipes for making use of our fresh summer bounty. I need more, please send them to me!