Less is the New More: Mainstream Media Edition

The whole “less is new more” ideal isn’t just another movement destined for the fringe; it’s started to catch on in places other than the blogs and online resources, though the ‘net has certainly helped foster the movement. TreeHugger’s pals at Apartment Therapy have been holding a “Smallest, Coolest Apartment” [www.apartmenttherapy.com] contest for three years now. Not necessarily because it’s greener, but out of necessity; the New York City-based blog knows that many New Yorkers live in shoebox-sized apartments, and need design advice to make the most of their diminutive space. But that’s just the beginning.

Image credit: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
The king of newspaper media, the New York Times, has even caught on, embracing the “tiny house movement” with this article [www.nytimes.com] about people building sensible second homes whose square footage can number in the double digits:
“A wave of interest in such small dwellings — some to serve, like the Shepherds’ home, as temporary housing, others to become space-saving dwellings of a more permanent nature — has prompted designers and manufacturers to offer building plans, kits and factory-built houses to the growing number of small-thinking second-home shoppers. Seldom measuring much more than 500 square feet, the buildings offer sharp contrasts to the rambling houses that are commonplace as second homes.
“This reduction of scale makes sense for a lot of people. Second homes are often geared toward outdoor activities, so for several months of the year interior space is superfluous. Minimal square footage means reduced maintenance costs, less upkeep and reduced energy consumption. Prefabricated and pre-built models can require little or no site preparation, which means no anxious weekend drives to the country to make sure construction is moving along. Add to this an element of instant gratification (once the planning stage is over, most houses go up in days, even hours, and many are delivered, turn-key, to the site).”

The “smallest, coolest” wave even washed over Oprah [www2.oprah.com], whose interior design guru, Nate Berkus, was tasked with making over a 250 square-foot NYC apartment to create a functional, livable, fun space for a show:

“Nate says his ‘biggest challenge ever’ was rewarding because it made him reprioritize some things in his life. ‘I mean, how much space do we really need?’ he says. ‘I thought to myself there was so much joy coming out of those four walls, that it really motivated me to do the best I could do—literally the best I could do.’”

Back in the online world, this ideal is nicely summarized by another TreeHugger pal, Harry Wakefield at MoCo Loco [www.mocoloco.com]:

“The bottom line, don’t be a slave to high mortgages or rent, you can live well with less than you think. An idea we’ve been advocating for a while now, in fact, it goes further than that, we feel it’s really about “less is the new more”. It’s a surprising statement from a blog that generates a non-stop stream of objects made to be consumed. The twist? Consume objects gracefully. Spend more money, buy an item that’s made to last, that’s multi functional and sustainable, that brings beauty and art into your life. Then stop. Take some time to think before buying the next thing.”

Taken separately, these stories are simple examples of one person making a difference; considered together, as a whole, they offer a blueprint for a new, greener way to live your life.