Stephanie Arne and Time Davison’s idea was to pack up everything, travel the country and go to schools to educate students about living sustainably while logging their adventures on a YouTube channel.
“My idea was to get an RV because that’s the practical thing to do. Then Steph woke up one day and said, ‘We should get a tiny house on wheels and get on one of those TV shows,’” Davison said. “She found 84 Lumber out of Pennsylvania and they just started building tiny houses this last year, so we told them the pitch. They loved it, jumped on board and gave us our house for free.”
Arne and Davison, Florida residents, have been traveling the country in their tiny home to promote their nonprofit organization The Creative Animal Foundation, which is an initiative that encourages people to live more sustainably.
The U.S. Green Building Council Heart of Florida Chapter hosted the Gainesville stop of the tiny house tour Friday at Depot Park.
“Over the next two years, we’re looking for a million people who want to live, work and play more sustainably,” Davison said.
Tiny homes have increased in popularity as people have tried to cut back on their material possessions, but Mary Alford, USGBC Heart of Florida board member, said this is probably not a lifestyle choice for everyone.
“A lot of people think it’s really cool because it’s on TV, but people don’t realize it’s a tight environment,” Alford said. “Daily issues we don’t think about in larger houses you would need to really think about when living in such a small space. Even things as small as body odor can be an issue.”
Samantha Varella, a University of Florida student and USGBC Heart of Florida board member, said she was very excited when the couple reached out to her to host the event.
“Gainesville is very progressive in terms of sustainability and mobility,” Varella said. “I think younger generations have this love for traveling and minimizing how much stuff you have.”
Arne and Davison try to live their lives as sustainably as possible, even down to their appliances.
“We have a composting toilet that saves 500 to 800 gallons of water a week between the two of us,” Arne said.
Davison said there are three main points they focus on when asking people to do small things daily to work toward a more sustainable future.
“What we really try to get across to people is water consumption, electricity consumption and plastic consumption,” Davison said. “Steph has literally rescued those animals you see online, pulling the plastic bags out of their throats, so she has this vendetta against plastic bags.”
In a few years when The Creative Animal Foundation is more established, Davison said he and Arne hope to have more events around Florida. Until then, USGBC Heart of Florida will host several events to raise awareness about living sustainably.
Varella said she is happy USGBC got to host an event like this.
“[Arne and Davison] live a very simple life, and they love giving back to the community,” she said. “They show people that it’s not that crazy to live in such minimal ways.”