Last week I talked about our off the grid electrical system. This week I wanted to share a little with you about how we live without plumbing in our tiny house.
We decided to skip any of the plumbing in our small space for a few reasons. We currently use water from two sources. We have spring on the land and we collect that water in four 5 gallon containers usually about once a week. We use this water for washing. We have a Berkey water filtration system in our house which sits over a basin that we use as our indoor “sink” for brushing teeth, washing hands and other small cleaning jobs like our mugs in the morning. Our second source is to purchase our drinking water by the gallon.
It isn’t uncommon for an American household to use 100 gallons of water or more a day. This sort of statistic has always bothered me, especially since much of that water is essentially wasted. We leave our sinks on when we brush our teeth or wash our dishes. We stand in the shower for a half an hour at a time. We use flush toilets. In our tiny house we use probably around 3 gallons a day, and that is a high estimate. (This does not include drinking water). We have elevated much of our water consumption by building a dry composting toilet as recommended. We did the research and read the Humanure Handbook and realized this was a great solution for us. Our gray water can be taken care of by constructing an artificial wetland.
We are most proud of our shower system. We came up with the design after Matt went out to New Mexico to learn how to do Earth Bag building so we could begin a project in South Africa. The man he met with had lived on a boat and explained that he used a garden sprayer for his shower. We realized that this was a great idea and thought we could make a few improvements. Using parts from the plumbing department we turned a simple garden sprayer into a 4 gallon pressurized shower system. We were even able to take this design and build something similar for the children we are working with in South Africa.
Eventually we plan to build a rain catchment system and we hope to eventually eliminate the need to purchase our drinking water. People have asked us if the tradeoff is worth it, and I don’t find the way we live any more difficult than before. We simply traded some inconveniences for others. Living in this tiny house has given us a lot of freedom to do things we weren’t able to do living in a city. I’m inspired by seeing all the creative and wonderful people who have embraced the tiny life and I am proud to be a part of this small but growing movement.
Laura LaVoie and her husband live full-time in their Tumbleweed and blog about their experience at Life in 120 Square Feet. If you want to learn more about building a tiny house, join us at a workshop near you!