Our 10 most popular stories of 2017

Top 10 stories
© Various/TreeHugger

From giant whales and tiny living to Tesla, trees, and death cleaning, the year’s most read stories are like a field guide to groovy green living.

And it's a wrap! Well that was quite a year, right? While many of our news feeds were focused on, you know, other things, a lot of you still made the time to come over to TreeHugger to see what we had to say ... of which we had plenty. Curiously, many of our most popular stories had to do with hitting the road and getting out of Dodge, whether by escape to nature via wheels or moving to a lighthouse or even a new country altogether. Go figure. There were a few nods to Mother Nature – trees and whales, some of her finest work – and tiny living was big, as usual. Of course it wouldn't be TreeHugger if Tesla didn't show up somewhere in the top ... but our number one story? Well scroll down to see, and in the meantime let us wish you some happy "dostadning" for the new year...

10. 11 facts about blue whales, the largest animals ever known to live on Earth

Balaenoptera musculus, the blue whale, is the largest animal ever known to have lived on the planet – movie monsters aside. Even at birth it is one of the world’s biggest animals! The planet is covered with amazing, fascinating creatures, but the blue whale ranks among one of the most superlative.

Read: 11 facts about blue whales, the largest animals ever known to live on Earth

9. 6 lighthouses the government is selling for nothing

If your dream home checklist includes seclusion, round rooms and the sound of waves all night and day, these obsolete lighthouses are/were up for grabs thanks to the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, which "provides a mechanism for the conveyance of federally owned historic light stations to qualified new stewards," once the lighthouse is no longer needed.

Read: 6 lighthouses the government is selling for nearly nothing

8. There's a lot to learn about small space living from this Volkswagen camper van

Volkswagen side view© Volkswagen

If you've ever had a dream of doing a big circle around the continent in a van, this Volkswagen California Camper prototype might just be the dream vehicle to do it in.

Read: There's a lot to learn about small space living from this VW camper van

7. 15 of the most remarkable trees in America

angel oak tree photo© Pat Canova/Getty Images

While they aren't celebrated as much as they should be, few things are as iconic as a country's trees. They stand witness to history, being rooted in place sometimes for thousands of years, as generations of people come and go. From the world's largest to ones that were here long before the Mayflower, these noble trees are nothing less than U.S. national treasures!

Read: 15 of the most remarkable trees in America

6. Let's go camping! A tour of teardrop trailers

Isetta with teardropPinterest/ BMW Isetta with Teardrop Trailer/via

According to one history, the teardrop trailer was originally designed by Louis Rogers of Pasadena, California, as a "honeymoon house trailer." After the plans were published in in a 1940 issue of Popular Mechanics the public went nuts for them, because they were really light and easy to tow and the aerodynamic streamlined shape reduced drag and fuel consumption; you could even get one to tow behind a tiny Isetta. Here are some of our favorites.

Read: Let's go camping! A tour of teardrop trailers

5. 10 countries with low cost of living and great climate

Looking for new digs? These are the top 10 countries worldwide for relocation or retirement, ranked according to factors such as climate, cost of living, healthcare, renting and buying real estate, visa and travel accessibility, infrastructure, and ease of fitting in. Cue escape fantasy!

Read: 10 countries with low cost of living and great climate

4. Let's go camping! A tour of trailers and RVs

HOffman Airstream© Hoffman Architecture

We previously looked at little teardrop trailers, but now for something a little bigger and more comfortable.

Read: Let's go camping! A tour of trailers and RVs

3. There's lots to learn from these small house plans from the 60s

house plans 60s© F. W. Sunter D. L. Sawtell

The average American house is now over 2,600 square feet and growing again. Fifty years ago, houses were a lot smaller. There was a lot of building going on, so the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (equivalent to the US Freddie Mac) prepared plan books to help Canadians and builders produce efficient, relatively easy-to-build houses. Any of these would be right at home, so to speak, today.

Read: There's lots to learn from these small house plans from the 60s

2. Tesla kills the duck with big batteries

tesla batteries in place© Tesla

One of the problems that comes from reliance on solar power is the “duck curve,” where the solar panels produce more power than is needed during the day, and standby power is needed in the evening when demand is high and the sun goes down. One of the solutions that people dreamed about just a few years ago was giant batteries, and Elon Musk promised that he would make them in his new Nevada factory. What is really astonishing is that in just three months, Tesla has delivered a giant battery farm with 396 stacks of batteries that can provide enough electricity to power 15,000 houses for four hours, about how long it takes to shave the peaks, to kill the duck.

Read: Tesla kills the duck with big batteries

And our number one story of the year, thanks to our slightly morbid but wonderfully pragmatic readers:

1. 'Swedish death cleaning' is the new decluttering trend

luggage bagMaxPixel/Public Domain

In Swedish, the word is "dostadning" and it refers to the act of slowly and steadily decluttering as the years go by, ideally beginning in your fifties (or at any point in life) and going until the day you kick the bucket. The ultimate purpose of death cleaning is to minimize the amount of stuff, especially meaningless clutter, that you leave behind for others to deal with.

Read: 'Swedish death cleaning' is the new decluttering trend

Thank you to everyone who visited us, read and shared our stories, looked at our photos, left happy comments, left grumpy comments, wrote us letters, and engaged with our community – we are ever grateful. Here's to a happy, healthy and sustainable 2018!

Our 10 most popular stories of 2017
From giant whales and tiny living to Tesla, trees, and death cleaning, the year’s most read stories are like a field guide to groovy green living.

Related Content on Treehugger.com