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Less Stuff, More Space: Life in a Tiny House
Erin Murphy ' 17, Sustainability Intern for Employee Engagement
Center for Sustainability: What has life after SCU been for you?
Alex Garcia: A lot of things! I’d say it’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. I live in Felton and work [for Google] in Mountain View, so it has been a lot of commuting. One thing that’s great about being out of school and working is that I have time to do the things I want to do without feeling guilty for not studying. I’ve found that I have more time to read for fun and pursue things I’m interested in, like how to make a good loaf of sourdough bread!
CfS: What does “simple living” mean to you? Why is it important?
AG: To me I’d say it means two things 1) finding joy out of non-material things and 2) being practical about what I need. I am so grateful to live in such a beautiful place. Little things like going for a run at Henry Cowell [State Park] or stopping by the local bakery can make my day! I don’t need super elaborate plans or things to feel satisfied. A more extreme example of a time that I evaluated what I really need was last year when I decided I didn’t need animal products of any kind in my diet. I simplified my diet to be plant-based and have really enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes. “Simple living” is important because it has allowed me to be happy with what I have. It’s still something I’m constantly working on, and I still think I have too much stuff, but just being aware of trying to achieve a more simple lifestyle is a good first step!
CfS: What factors have influenced you to practice a simpler lifestyle?
AG: At SCU I did a lot of backpacking trips with Into The Wild, and backpacking was one of the first times I really stopped and re-evaluated all the things I had/thought I needed. Backpacking for days at a time, you have everything you need on your back and I found something so comforting and humbling about that.
CfS: What is one thing you do or practice each day that brings you happiness?
AG: I get outside! Even if it’s a super busy day I make sure to at least get in a quick walk outside. Being outdoors always slows me down and let’s me catch my breath. It also helps me feel connected to the Earth, which is important because it is easy to feel disconnected after spending 8 hours inside at work!
CfS: How do you resist the urge to buy new things in our consumerist society?
AG: For starters, my house in Felton (which I share with my boyfriend) is 400 sq. ft., so I literally don’t have the physical space for new stuff. The main thing I’ve gotten in the habit of doing is asking myself, “Do I have something that already serves this purpose?” before I buy something. Because more often than not the answer is yes! Even if something is on sale, it doesn’t matter if you already have something that serves that purpose. Also being fresh out of college and supporting myself while also paying off student loans, I am forced me to think hard about whether I need those cool looking tie dye pants.
CfS: If someone wanted to simplify their life, what first step would you recommend?
AG: Take inventory of what you have right now; is there anything you can get rid of? Besides that, just be aware of wanting to live more simply when you’re out and about, you’ll probably have second thoughts about whether you really need a new sweater, or whether you really want to eat something super processed with a million unpronounceable ingredients.