Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Why Small Fridges Make Good Cities

Rampant consumerism isn’t limited to clothes, electronics and other durable goods. Many American kitchens can look like doomsday shelters, with their pantries and freezers packed with enough food for weeks or months.

A few years ago, Canadian architect Donald Chong introduced a concept-kitchen called “Small Fridges Make Good Cities.” On his site, Chong asks a provocative question: “Can the choices we make in our own homes make a difference in our neighbourhoods?”

We tend to think our interiors as dissociated from our communities, but what if we saw the inner and outer spaces as inseparable? For example, a kitchen with a small fridge could have personal, community and even global impact from results like:

  • Frequent, small shopping trips. Chong wanted to “heighten the experience of the urban harvest where seasonality, once again, can resume its place in architecture and the city.” Chong is hearkening to a time when people ate with the season and went to the market frequently because food didn’t keep indefinitely via freezing and vacuum packing. Markets weren’t just food warehouses as they are now. They were important community spaces where people shared their lives.
  • Fresher food. I’ve heard, “If your food can go bad, it’s good for you. If your food won’t go bad, it’s bad for you.” Big caches of food that don’t go bad are, by their very nature, not fresh. Small fridges produce high turnover. Of course, the high turnover could be junk food, but as long as you’re at the market, do your body a favor and shop at the perimeter, where all the fresh food is.
  • More eating out. Many of our homes are isolated fortresses of eating and media consumption (TV, internet, etc.). While eating out every night does not make sense for many of us, going out of the house 2-3 times a week and engaging your community is a great way to support local economies and make a vibrant city.
  • Less space. This is pretty obvious, but food takes up real estate.
  • Less energy. Refrigerators account for around 15% of household energy expenditures. A small, Energy Star fridge like the Sub-Zero 700 BCi used in the first LifeEdited apartment, will help mitigate that number considerably.

Of course, many of us live in places where frequent shopping isn’t feasible. And you can get a small fridge and fill it with Hot Pockets or order greasy takeout every night.

But maybe you’re remodeling your kitchen. Consider a slimmer, European style fridge instead of an American double-wide. Or you’re moving into a small apartment with a small fridge. Consider getting to know your farmer’s market.

Do you have a small fridge? What are your experiences with it? How does it change your habits? We’d like to know.

Story via Treehugger and Donald Chong, Image via Designboom