Bucks County Herald

Minimus builder seeks to inspire sustainable living

CHRIS RUVO



The work-in-progress Minimus Tiny House Project with Melissa Matarese outside.

Melissa Matarese’s heart beats green.

An artist, yoga instructor and passionate environmental advocate, the Doylestown woman is on a mindful mission to connect more intimately with nature – to live in synergy with the natural world.

And now, she’s eager to inspire greater earth-consciousness in the local community through Minimus – a tiny, eco-friendly mobile house she and supporters are building at The Market at Delaware Valley University.

“We want to encourage people to think about the environment and inspire them to live more sustainably,” said Matarese as she spoke outside the work-in-progress home on a recent sunny Saturday. “People can take things they see here and use them in their lives.”

As part of the educational initiative, Matarese hosts an open house on Saturday afternoon – Sustainable Saturday – where folks can stop by to learn about the Minimus project.

What’s revealed is fascinating.

Once completed, the 270-square-foot mini-home will be fully functional and off-the-grid. Lights will turn on thanks to solar power from altE. A basin will collect rainwater, which will serve as the primary water source, while greywater will be recycled to feed plants.

Additionally, a Nature’s Head composting toilet will help tend to necessities with minimal environmental impact, while construction elements will include wood, recyclable metal and recycled, repurposed building materials. The house will even have an outdoor upper level area for growing vegetables and herbs.

Of course, the house is small – a fact that reduces carbon footprint.

“We really don’t need all that much to live comfortably and make less of an impact on the planet,” said Matarese.

The Minimus project is an outgrowth of Matarese’s business Mesa Lifestyle, an eco lifestyle company through which she teaches yoga, paddleboarding and paddleboard yoga, while practicing her own art, which includes painting, pottery and graphic design.

Matarese also teaches yoga at Del Val, a connection that led to the Sustainable Saturdays initiative and Minimus being built on the university’s market grounds.

Matarese said the project would not be possible without the support of volunteers and sponsors, some of which include McDonough Construction LLC, Barb-Lin Carpet One, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Indigenous Ingenuities, Varcoe-Thomas Funeral Home of Doylestown Inc., 84 Lumber and Wehrung’s Lumber & Home Center.

Matarese and her helpers, including her father, Rich, began building the home in August. They aim to complete it this autumn. Eventually, Matarese will hit the road, taking the house to schools, farmers’ markets and other venues to teach about eco-living.

“We’re teaching about sustainable living practices and showing these things are within your reach,” said Matarese.

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