Building a Reuseful Home

Posted on | By Becky Moles
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West Sussex, UK - Does the thought of building your own house sound daunting? How about constructing entirely from used, repurposed and dumpster-dived materials? I also forgot to mention this house is on wheels. Filmmaker and reuse advocate Alex Eaves and designer Derek "Deek" Diedricksen take on this challenge in their documentary 'The Box Truck Film: Building a Reuseful Home'. The film follows their journey of transforming a 17-foot box truck into a 98-square-foot small home and mobile reuse education centre.

I recently learnt the phrase ‘bus stop moment', sister to an epiphany; it is a moment of clarity and an urge to live more aligned with values. Alex's 'bus stop moment' came in the early noughties whilst working as a merchandising manager for touring bands. He discovered an order of incorrectly printed t-shirts would be shredded into rags once returned to the manufacturer. Shocked by this cavalier waste, Alex saw the opportunity to rescue and restyle these shirts. Knowing that he wanted to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem, he switched his apparel brand, STAY VOCAL, to 100% reuse. His collection is made from rescued garments sourced through thrift shops or saved from disposal due to misprinting.

A zero waste approach permeates all areas of Alex’s life, not just his business. In 2015, he created the film 'REUSE! Because You Can't Recycle The Planet' which documents his travel across the US, interviewing people reusing materials destined for waste in novel ways.

A serendipitous encounter at a farmer's market led Alex to meet Derek "Deek" Diedricksen. The pair bonded over vintage and a mutual love for reclaiming and reusing. Deek is a professional tiny house builder, artist and best-selling author of the book 'Microshelters'. He has hosted and designed for numerous TV shows and runs the hugely popular YouTube design channel RelaxshacksDOTcom. As a child, Deek built forts utilising scraps of wood he and his brother found in skips on construction sites. In adulthood, he has carved out a career that echoes that early love, designing and building small structures, mainly using repurposed materials creatively.

Alex and Deek embarked on the box truck metamorphosis with the mission to prove that almost everything we need to thrive in our daily lives already exists in abundance.

The tiny house movement champions sustainable living through downsizing our homes and simplifying our lives to use fewer resources to minimise our environmental impact. The trend is slowly gaining traction in the UK, and it's easy to see why; who wouldn't want to be minimalist and mortgage-free.

The largely self-documented film follows all the challenges of building a small home strong enough to withstand the rocking of the open road. The documentary contains useful tips for tiny house building and living - particularly some inventive storage solutions for small spaces. Reuse was at the heart of the build, with reclaimed pieces dictating the design in original ways that would never be achieved through the uniformity of new. 75% of the materials were locally sourced, which was a huge part of the project, connecting with the local community and keeping the stories behind the materials alive.

There is a particularly striking scene where the team discover a demolished house, possessions and furniture still inside. It is a 'bus stop moment' where, as a viewer, you realise that we are far too accustomed to witnessing such waste.

Alex still lives in his box truck house, travelling around the US showcasing the reuse lifestyle to lessen our impact on the planet. The side of his home is refashioned into a screen for audiences to watch the documentary and explore his 'reuseful' house.
Watch ‘The Box Truck Film: Building a Reuseful Home’

Story Type: News