how to live in a dumpster

Just call him “Professor Dumpster.” Dr. Jeff Wilson, a professor and dean at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, is living in a dumpster. For an entire year. The classic hunter green 33-square foot recycled trash can is where he eats, sleeps and checks his email. The goal of this project is not just to raise awareness — though Dr. Wilson is certainly succeeding in that regard — but to study sustainability issues and low-impact living. The dumpster also serves as an interactive teaching lab and as the project progresses students apply new ideas to mock dumpsters in their lab before implementing them in the actual container.

The Dumpster Project is responsible for creating and developing the dumpster habitat through hands-on interactive and education. The dumpster is just one percent the size of a typical American home, so Wilson’s goal is to consume just one percent (or maybe even less) the energy and resources of normal homes while also reducing waste to just one percent as well. The project has three phases, and students have signed on to trade off with the professor and live in the dumpster. He hopes to install a television and a washing machine and dryer outside the dumpster. For now, the project is in the “camping phase.” Wilson lives his daily life inside the dumpster. He makes coffee and schleps nearly an hour to collect water from a nearby lake.

The final phase of the project, aptly named “über dumpster,” aims to convert the dumpster into a sustainable tiny home. The Dumpster Project team will consult with designers, engineers and even landscape architects to transform the dumpster into an innovative and habitable home. Pairing new technologies with “old school” methods, the project will include water filtration, climate control (especially important in the sweltering Texas summer heat), waste reduction and even a garden.

The project will last one year. To prepare, Wilson spent several months sleeping on the floor of his University office.

Read more about this incredible endeavor and see pictures of the habitat in progress:

Photo credit: © The Dumpster Project