Tiny Hemp House Grandma--Washington State Senior Upgrades Tiny House Movement
By Kurtis Bright
Her House May Be Small, but this Washington State Grandmother Has Defied Expectations About Retirement--and Hemp
The days of striving to own a McMansion have gone the way of the pastel-colored Miami Vice sport coat.
It may be partly due to changing tastes and values, and is almost certainly partly a result of the forced cutbacks and austerity (for people, not banks, curiously) following the banking meltdown in 2008. But unless you’re a college football head coach or a television preacher, those ostentatious, tacky, giant houses are no longer on the short list of what most people want for Christmas.
These days, in growning pockets of the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, quite the opposite is the case. Dubbed the tiny house movement, a shift toward minimizing the footprint we take us as well as the resources we consume has people all over the U.S. building homes of minimal square footage, often scavenging materials and even retrofitting shipping containers to be used as homes.
Of course, a portion of the driving force behind the movement is economic: if you can build a house that is semi-mobile for a few thousand dollars that will require little or no outside resources--especially if you are already in debt up to your eyeballs--a 30-year mortgage on a too-large house in the suburbs begins to dim as a viable choice.
However it is important to note that the tiny house movement is also an environmental one.
Take for instance Washington state’s Pam Bosch. The grandmother of 62 years of age has made headlines and shaken up expectations about retirement by taking it upon herself to construct her first tiny home using a unique material: hemp.
What’s so great about her story is that, not only is she a grandmother, she’s no homebuilder--or at least she wasn’t. As artist and a thinking person who can see that the way we live these days isn’t sustainable, Bosch’s solution was to evade the archaic U.S. ban on growing hemp--marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin--by importing it from the U.K.
To her it is insane to live any other way.
“We should have as many buildings as we can that are built out of a renewable resource that sequesters carbon, that is healthy and if it were legal would be very affordable,” she said in an interview with Collective Evolution. “It’s an agricultural waste product we’re using.”
They say waste not, want not, and Bosch’s tiny home takes that notion to the extreme.
She says the material functioned amazingly well for creating plaster for the house, and hemp is a CO2 sink, so it doubles its environmental effect: by not using new materials or chopping down trees, and additionally sequestering carbon dioxide. (Bosch notes that it is important to choose the right time of year to work with hemp as a building material, as well as the right climate.)
“You want conditions like we’re starting to see now--overcast, high humidity--because you don’t want it to dry out too fast,” she said.
Absurdly, hemp remains on the DEA’s Schedule 1 list of the most dangerous drugs, right up there with heroin and LSD, despite the fact that the most dangerous thing it can be used for is rope. Thus there is no such thing as a building permit for a hemp house; Bosch was forced in a way to join the tiny house movement.
Her hemp cottage boasts a modest 120 square feet, and she hopes it can be part of a wave of like-minded home builders who seek to not only live more simply, but also change the planet one tiny hemp house at a time.
“I’m investing in this because I believe in it and believe someone’s got to do it to make it legal,” she said.