Could you live in this delightfully tiny home? Eco-advocates sure hope so.

When you think about climate change, what comes to mind?

I immediately imagine smokestacks billowing black soot, congested highways with idling cars, and millions of unassuming, gassy cows hanging out on the prairie. I don't, however, think about the house I live in — but I should, if you ask a climate scientist.

The housing sector is responsible for over one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations.

And that's what makes this amazing tiny house all the more spectacular.


Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

This Ecological Living Module — aptly dubbed the "tiny house" — aims to spark fresh ideas rethinking home construction and functionality to fight climate change.

The house, set up in New York City's U.N. Plaza between July 9-18, was built through a collaborative effort between U.N. Environment, U.N. Habitat, and Yale University. And its features are pretty darn remarkable.

Could this tiny house represent the homes of the future?

Many environmentalists certainly hope so.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

It's a mere 72 square feet (!), give or take, and is truly a work of sustainable art.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

The house was constructed using only locally sourced and bio-based materials. It runs on solar energy, has on-site water collection for in-home use, and uses plants to keep the interior air pure and fresh.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Photo by Hind Wildman/U.N. Environment.

The home even has a "micro-farming wall" on its exterior so that potential residents can eat (very) locally.

Photo by Hind Wildman/U.N. Environment.

The tiny home movement has been picking up speed in American culture as more people trade large houses on big properties for a simple, cheap, and sometimes mobile alternative.

But beyond relishing in any short-lived lifestyle trend, the U.N. module home is aimed at helping solve two dire global problems in the long term:

  1. People are in desperate need of more housing, especially in the expanding urban regions of the developing world.
  2. The worsening effects of climate change go hand in hand with a growing world population emitting more carbon into the air.

The tiny home is a two birds, one stone solution.

"We clearly need more housing," explained Erik Solheim, U.N. Environment Head, "but the key thing is that we also need smarter housing."

Homes like this one do the trick.

Photo by Hind Wildman/U.N. Environment.

While this particular tiny house in New York will be moved this month, U.N. Environment plans to build future iterations in different countries to continue pushing for solutions-based design.

"Adequate housing is at the heart of sustainable urbanization," according to Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of U.N. Habitat. "If adopted widely, this practice can create jobs and prosperity with lower greenhouse gas emissions."

Sounds like a win-win for our world to me.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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