10 Biodegradable Products for Greener Grey Water

*All products in this video are listed below*

Since our travels began on September 2nd 2014, Guillaume and I have been trying to "green" ourselves, starting with our grey water. I'd love to be able to say that all of the products that go down our drain are 100% biodegradable, so I've begun switching out our chemical products for biodegradable alternatives. 

Our Water Set Up

Guillaume and I do not have black water, as we use a composting toilet. Our grey water is the "waste" water coming from our shower and kitchen sink. In a campground, it doesn't matter if it's grey or black, waste water drains into the sewer. When we're off-grid, we use a 15 gallon portable grey water tank, which we can dump at any appropriate place. Until now, the appropriate place has always been the sewer because of the products we use. I'd like that to change.

Tiny House Giant Journey's Hook Ups (bottom left of trailer - blue grey water tank)

THGJ Grey Water Set Up

THGJ Grey Water Set Up

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10 PRODUCTS FOR GREENER GREY WATER:

1) Shampoo* - 365 Lavender Blend / oily + normal hair
2) Conditioner* - Acure Lemongrass + Argon Stem Cell
3) Body Soap* - Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap - Lavender
4) Acne Cream* - 100% Pure Spot Treatment
5) Face Wash* - Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash / Oily & Combo Skin
6) Body LotionDr. Bronner's Magic Lotion - Lavender Coconut
7) Toner* - Acure Facial Toner / Balancing Rose + Red Tea
8) All Purpose Spray* Method All-Purpose Cleaner - Cucumber
9) Dishwashing Liquid* - Ultra Dishmate - Natural Almond
10) Mascara*100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Black Tea Ultra-Lengthening Mascara
*Packaging claims product is biodegradable
*Website claims product is biodegradable
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Where do you find biodegradable products?

It's actually very simple. You can shop online or you can go to a health food store. Whole Foods is a great resource, and usually they have at least one staff member dedicated to help you choose natural products.

How can you tell a product is biodegradable?

Ah yes, well you need to be a chemist. Not really, but this is a little tricky. You could do a massive amount of online research to learn how to decipher ingredient lists, trust the employees at your local health food store or pick products that have "100% biodegradable" or "readily biodegradable" written on the container. This last suggestion will limit you because many products do NOT add the biodegradable categorization to their packaging, even if the product is biodegradable.

100% Biodegradable Label on Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap

Do biodegradable products really work?

The easy answer is: Yes. The longer answer is: You need to find the right product for you. I've found some biodegradable products to have a displeasing smell or texture. I had to stop using one shampoo because it actually made my hair feel greasier AFTER the shower. But, for the most part, I've been happy with the products I've chosen. Like anything, it takes time and patience.

Shopping Tips:

1). Some biodegradable products are multi-purpose, like Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. They boast that you can use this soap for 18 different things! As a tiny houser, this is a total win.

2). Home remedies also work! White vinegar and water, mixed together in a spray bottle, is an excellent affordable cleaning solution. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer.

3). Biodegradable products are more expensive, but there are affordable products as well. Choose products with simplistic packaging. Companies that care more about what's inside rather than on the bottle are usually going to gain my respect. You can also look around at your local farmer's market. Often there will be at least one booth for natural soaps, lotions, etc. Ask them if their product is 100% biodegradable.

4). Read the directions. Many natural products are concentrated, therefore you can buy a smaller bottle and it will last you as long as a large chemically-enhanced bottle (another win for tiny housers).

3). As a bonus, many biodegradable products are cruelty-free, vegan, manufactured with renewable energy and contained less cancerous materials.

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HELP ME GREEN MY GREY WATER! 

Okay my green friends, if you have a biodegradable product you'd like to recommend, please comment below!

Let's produce more enviro-friendly products and create less sewage.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 30, 2014

Filed under: Biodegradable   Cypress   Giant Journey   Green   Grey Water   Lifestyle   Products   Tiny House   Tumbleweed  

Russ and Sheila's Weekend Retreat

Sheila Working on her Weekend Retreat

Russ and Sheila are avid cyclists and have always dreamed of owning a weekend retreat that's bike-able from their permanent home. “I remember how excited I was when I stumbled on the Tumbleweed site for the first time in early 2013. Right away, I knew I had found what I was looking for,” Russ recalls. “I love the efficiency of the design, that it’s moveable, affordable and I love the way the design and look will blend in with the forest setting I plan to place it in.”

Russ (front, center) & Friends 

The problem? Russ wanted to build his home, but like so many DIY tiny housers, he had no construction experience. He attended a Tumbleweed workshop in Berkeley last year to learn more about the project he was about to undertake, and he was delightfully surprised by the amount of new friends he made over the two days.

“One of the couples I had met at the workshop contacted my wife, Sheila, and I about some property they were going to look at in the Santa Cruz Mountains,” Russ told us. “The four of us loved it so much that we ended up buying the property together and now we all have a place to put our tiny houses!”

At Tumbleweed, we structure our workshops to be social and encourage our attendees to stay in contact long after the weekend is over. Whether it's a carpenter looking to help out on a small project or a family who has extra backyard space available for constructing a tiny house, countless friendships have been made just from meeting like-minded people and starting the tiny house conversation.

Russ in his Framed Tiny Home

It's been a year since Russ and Sheila attended the Berkeley workshop, and they are now almost half finished with their Tumbleweed Elm 18 Overlook. “It’s probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life,” Russ admits, “and I have done some pretty difficult things, including getting a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford and riding my bike 520 miles in 40 hours.” Russ and Sheila have encountered a few difficulties during construction, including finding the right trailer.

“I thought I could save money by having one (a trailer) custom built by a local trailer manufacturer.  However, the final dimensions ended up being less than perfect.  By the time I had paid a welder to modify the design and add the all threaded rod to tie down the house, I ended up spending about the same amount of money and much more time than I would have if I had simply purchased the Tumbleweed trailer.”

Russ on his Ridge Beam

Even thought they've encountered a few challenges, Russ has found the experience to be extremely rewarding, adding that he can't wait to spend the night in a house that he built with his own two hands. 

As always, we asked Russ to share three pieces of advice for future builders. He gave us four, including links to his website with more information! 

Russ's 4 Pieces of Advice:

1.  Stick to the plans. Especially if you don’t have a lot of building experience.  Early in the build process, I made a few changes that I thought were minor but ended up causing major headaches.  
2.  Purchase the highest quality tools you can afford.  Doing so will save you a lot of time and effort and you will thank yourself every time you use them.
3.  Whenever possible, support your local lumberyard instead of the big box hardware stores.  You might pay a little extra, but it will be worth the good advice and high quality materials you will receive.
4.  Its OK to make mistakes. Welcoming a little imperfection often results in unexpected beauty you might not have otherwise experienced.

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*All photos provided by Russ and Sheila

*Russ and Sheila have an extremely helpful, detailed blog about their build. It's a great resource. Follow them here

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 27, 2014

Insulation: What to Consider

Tiny House Giant Journey's Rigid Foam Board Insulation

Many tiny housers live in cold and hot climates. There are Tumbleweeds that muscle through Alaskan winters (such as Heather's Cypress and Nathan's Cypress) and ones that chill-out during Louisiana summers (such as Art's Elm) and protect against Florida's humidity (such as Emily's Elm). High quality insulation is one of the BIG benefits about living in a tiny home versus a conventional RV. 

When choosing which insulation to use in your tiny home, the three key factors to consider are: 1) R-Value, 2) Loose Fill vs. Closed, 3) Environmental Impact.  

1) R-Value

R-values represent the extent to which insulation resists heat flow; a higher R-value means more insulating value.

For example, in Alaska R-values for roofs should approximate R-38 to R-49; for walls, R-21; and for floors R-15 to R-19 (according to this source). It will be important for you to determine the amount of insulation you need for your particular location. You can learn more about recommended R-value per region by clicking here

Halley's Tumbleweed with Rigid Foam Insulation

Types of Insulation and their R-values (per inch)

Rigid Foam: R5-7 per inch

Spray Foam: R6-7 per inch

Wool: R3.5-3.8 per inch

Cotton Batts: R3-4 per inch

Fiberglass Batts: R3-4 per inch

*For a list of types of insulation click here

2) Loose Fill Vs. Closed

Evan & Gabby's Tiny House trailer with Wool Insulation

Some insulations are closed,  which means that they create a vapor barrier or air seal and will provided extra strength within your walls. An example of closed insulation is spray foam, which is the typical insulation we use in our ready-made Houses-to-Go.  

Other insulations are loose fill, such as wool insulation, cellulose insulation and even shredded recycled paper insulation. This means that the material is—you guessed it—loosely packed within your walls. These types of insulations are easy to install and can fit within tight, awkward spaces. Keep in mind that some types of loose fill insulations will require an additional vapor barrier.  

3) Environmental Impact

Ella's Wool Insulation

Whenever you are building a home, whether it be a tiny home or a mansion, you have the option to choose greener materials. This choice depends on your own personal preference, but it is an important factor to weigh if you intend on installing the insulation yourself. Some insulations contain harmful fibers and will require a respirator when installing, such as fiberglass insulation.

Wool insulation is a natural and sustainable product; cotton denim insulation is made from non-toxic recycled materials. These materials will not require off-gassing and are consider green insulation alternatives. 

Comment below on which type of insulation you would use in your tiny home!

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Check back soon for an article on Tiny House heating!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 13, 2014

Filed under: cotton   denim   fiberglass   Insulation   Rigid Foam Insulation   Spray Foam   Tumbleweed   Wool Insulation  

Video Tours of Our Tiny Homes

We’ve been gathering and creating video tours of our tiny homes over the past few months, and we are now thrilled to release them all in one place! You’ll also now be able to view them under each house design for the Elm, Cypress and Linden. We hope these videos are helpful for those of you wondering which model will best fit your particular personality. Enjoy!

If you’d like to tour one of our tiny homes in person, we have another exciting announcement, our showroom in Colorado Springs is now open! Book a tiny house tour here.

First up, we’d like you to step inside our classic model: the Elm 24 with dormers.

We love this design because it’s based on the very first Tumbleweed. The Elm offers a full porch and a picturesque arched window above the front door. This model is simply stunning, just watch as the Home & Family hosts gush in this tour!

 

 

Next up we have our brand new Cypress 24, an extended version of our most popular model which features a left, right, or no porch option.

This particular tiny home is packed full of amenities, including: a full size refrigerator, air conditioning, a washer/dryer combo, downstairs bedroom, staircase, and much more!

 

 

If you’d rather have a smaller model, take a moment to tour through this Cypress 20 and feel the difference. Do you need the extra four feet? Or maybe you can live with even less. Not to worry, we also offer the Cypress on an 18 foot trailer!

 

 

Lastly, we’re ecstatic to show you the first video tour of our Linden 20.

 

This design will provide the largest loft and, like the Elm, offers a full size porch. Once inside you’ll see this model is quite unique from the other two, but she has a Tumbleweed heart and offers a clever, spacious design.

 

 

There are so many options to make these each of these designs one-of-a-kind, including: 3 trailer lengths, 23 floor plans, 3 sleeping options, multiple kitchen options, and choices in number of skylights, roof colors, chosen appliances, etc! The beautiful thing about living small is that you can customize YOUR home to fit YOUR lifestyle. And we want to help you find your perfect home. 

Bonus Video: Why Tumbleweed?

 

 

 

So, now that you've toured a few Tumbleweeds, WHAT TINY HOME ARE YOU?

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 06, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Elm   Linden   Showroom   Tiny House   Tumbleweed   Video Tour   Why Tumbleweed  

Zee's Tiny Classroom Update

Zee Kesler (On Left in Blue) and her Tiny House Team

We spoke with Zee Kesler back in May when she was still raising funds and dreaming of owning a tiny mobile community center in Vancouver. After a very productive summer, it seems Zee’s dream is close to becoming a reality. Her tiny structure has a finished exterior and the interior is in the works.

The advancements in her build are owed substantially to her friends and construction / design partners: John McFarlane (who builds tiny homes in Vancouver), Josh Armstrong, and Dave Myers. “I trust them whole heartedly and love everything they’ve done,” Zee explains. Her materials consist mostly of recycled supplies from local film productions, and the guys are constantly surprising her with the reuse of these items, seen most recently in her multi-colored window trim.

‘I love stripes, so when I saw what they did (with the trim), I was like: “Awww, you guys know me!”’ Zee recalls. “A community center should be colorful.”

As promised, workshops were held throughout Zee’s build, allowing other tiny house enthusiasts to learn from guest experts and even participate in the construction when possible. “The workshops covered the entire process of building a tiny home,” Zee explains, “So even though we aren’t finished with the house, we did demos of how to complete a tiny home.” Zee continued by saying that she was learning along with her 7-8 workshop attendees. Her favorite part was understanding how water interacts with certain materials and how houses have evolved over time.

Photo from Zee's Tiny House Workshop

Another unique item in Zee’s tiny classroom is the back window. “John (her designer) modified the Tumbleweed plans to create a community center layout, and he decided to make the back window stand out and possibly double as a future trademark or logo.” The result was to put several extra windows together creating a large, picturesque, mosaic-like window.

 

Zee's Unique Back Window

Zee’s house still has a little way to go, but she hopes it will be completed in about a month. This winter she endeavors to secure a grant for a public parking spot in Vancouver and to make this tiny home into a official community center where classes will be held. If all goes well, Zee’s dream will become a reality as early as Spring 2015.

Stay tuned for more updates on Zee’s story!

More info on Zee’s tiny community center follow the build on facebook here and online here, and the original story here

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*All photos provided by Zee Kesler

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Jenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a self-built Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure that began in September 2014. Occasionally they will be hosting an open house. More on their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — September 26, 2014

Filed under: canda   community center   Tiny House   vancouver   zee kesler  
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