Dr. Jeff Wilson, a dean and assistant professor of biological sciences at Huston-Tillotson University, wanted to research sustainable living. So, as eccentric professors tend to do, he moved into a 33-square-foot dumpster. Dr. Wilson affectionately became known as “Professor Dumpster” after spending a year in the tiny dwelling.
Over the course of 365 days, Wilson, or one of his students, spent every night in the makeshift home. The inhabitants of the dumpster had to make do with a small space, but they spruced up the place a bit. Solar panels and electrical connections were made in order for the trash container to have light and air conditioning. Other features include storage under a false floor and a weather station on the sliding roof door (it takes measurements every five minutes).
The dumpster sits on the campus of Houston-Tillotson University and will remain there, despite the end of the experiment.
Albuquerque Journal reports that Dr. Wilson will miss his time in the dumpster.
“The last few nights have been really sweet… Identitywise, am I still Professor Dumpster if I’m not living in a dumpster? I don’t know if this is what my mom wanted for her first-born son.”
The Dumpster Project was born out of a want to research sustainability. Wilson began with the hypothesis that “one can have a pretty good life in and on a lot less.” Essentially, the concept melted down into this: “Stuff is noise.” Wilson and his students wanted to know if it was possible to live in a dumpster for a year, and what sort of challenges they would face in doing so.
According toNBCDFW, a local NBC News affiliate, Wilson “evicted” himself on Wednesday during a reception on campus. The dumpster will be remaining on campus as a future teaching aid, and “The Dumpster Project ‘Home’ School” will have curriculum on sustainability.
Educators will be staying in the dumpster, according to Amanda Masino, who also teaches biology at Huston-Tillotson, and students will be given a “semiridiculous challenge: Turn the dumpster into a house. What happens when you don’t have constant temperature? Where do you get water? How do you treat it?”
Wilson believes that having the dumpster on campus will help students understand sustainability better than “talking about it in a dry way.”
Dr. Wilson did not spend the entire year in the dumpster himself. He estimates that he spent about 250 nights in the dwelling. Other nights he was travelling with his daughter or spending the night with his girlfriend. They couldn’t exactly go to his place, now could they?
Don’t let the silliness of the experiment fool you; there was a more serious note to the experiment.
“It pushes your limits. It totally blew up the idea of what a home is. In this climate, having central air and heat is more necessary than having a kitchen. But it would have been nice to have a toilet. The main complaint from students was a weak Wi-Fi signal — allegedly to do their homework.”
Wilson will continue to be part of Project Dumpster, however, he has a new experiment to complete: spending 99 nights in a variety of homes all over Austin.
Would you, or could you, spend a year in a space as small as a dumpster?
[Image via Commons.wikipedia.org]