In an effort to fill a “gap in knowledge” about the real environmental impact of downsizing to a tiny home, Virginia Tech PhD candidate Maria Saxton has surveyed 80 “downsizers”, calculated their ecological footprints before and after, and learned about how their lifestyles changed after they moved into their tiny homes.

Across Saxton’s study, she found that each person’s ecological footprint had been reduced by about 45% on average after they had downsized. She also identified over 100 behaviors that could change as a result of moving into a tiny home, and determined that 85% of them had a positive ecological impact.

My most interesting finding was that housing was not the only component of participants’ ecological footprints that changed. On average, every major component of downsizers’ lifestyles, including food, transportation, and consumption of goods and services, was positively influenced.

As a whole, I found that after downsizing, people were more likely to eat less energy-intensive food products and adopt more environmentally conscious eating habits, such as eating more locally and growing more of their own food. Participants traveled less by car, motorcycle, bus, train, and airplane, and drove more fuel-efficient cars than they did before downsizing.

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