Dr. Jeff Wilson, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Huston-Tillotson (HT) University in Austin, Texas will live in a dumpster for the next year all in an effort to teach students about sustainable living. As reported by KXAN Austin News, the environmental scientist sold all his possessions and will move into his tiny home tonight. It’s a project that the Ford Foundation is backing with $75,000 given towards the effort. Ultimately, Wilson says their goal is to answer the question, “Can you have a pretty good life living in one percent the size of the average new American home on one percent the water and one percent the energy, with one percent the waste?”
The idea came to “Professor Dumpster,” as he’s affectionately been nicknamed, while he was sitting in a Starbucks brainstorming ways to make his research more interactive for students. He saw a dumpster outside the coffee shop and the seed was planted.
The project plans include three phases for the dumpster which will rely on student involvement from the elementary school level through college. “They will propose different solutions. Go do some research on that. We’ll also run it by experts here and outside of HT. Then we’ll test out solutions,” said the professor.
First it will start out as a camping site where the professor will be using a negative 15 degree rated sleeping bag to get through the colder months. Wilson told the station that the dumpster will be a tight fit, “The Dumpster is 6 feet by 6 feet. I’m 6′ 1”, so that’s a little math problem. The hypotenuse. I’ll be sleeping diagonal.” Elbow room isn’t the only issue he’ll have to face as average Austin temperatures range near 100 degrees in the summer and winter lows have recently dipped into the 20’s.
Plans are to then transform the dumpster into a tiny home with appliances like a washing machine. “We’ll have a washing machine out here that will use 40 gallons on the average wash,” said Dr. Wilson. “Now I’ll be getting my water from Town Lake. So that’s eight five-gallon buckets I’ll have to haul up the hill.”
The last phase for the small living quarters is described as a “space capsule.” It’s unclear exactly what that means but Professor Dumpster said, “It will be the ultimate small space ever designed.”
His showers will be taken at the university gym and drinking water will be filtered water from Lady Bird Lake. However, by the end of the project, Dr. Wilson aims to have a completely self-sustaining dumpster home.