Austin
2:13 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Why This Austin Professor's Living In a Dumpster For a Year

An Austin professor has survived the first night in his year-long plan to live in a dumpster.

Dr. Jeff Wilson – aka “Professor Dumpster” – is an environmental science professor at Huston-Tillotson University. He’s also the face of The Dumpster Project, an educational experiment that aims to transform a 33-square-foot trash dumpster into a fully sustainable space.

"There was no mint on the pillow," he says, "and it wasn't exactly the W, but I did stay warm."

Students will work with Wilson to retrofit the dumpster throughout the year. Their work began, rightfully, by cleaning the dumpster out, as seen in this Instagram clip: 

The idea is for the dumpster to gradually progress from few amenities to the latest in sustainable technology – all while maintaining a "net zero" model of energy use.

Wilson credits those student volunteers – Green is the New Black – as the group guiding and pushing the project. "I'm just the guy living in the dumpster and acting as their advisor."

Wilson – a white professor at a historically black college – says the volunteers' "vision is to transform the way that the green conversation is going in our particular community, over here at Huston-Tillotson – and they are fostering new shades of green as the roots of our future."

They should have a little help – the Dumpster Project recently won a  $75,000 grant from Ford Motor Company. 

"The key endpoint," says Wilson, "at least for me, would be that there is a conversation – contextual to whatever an individual’s beliefs and thoughts are – around issues of less and more."

Care to see it for yourself? Wilson is hosting a "dumpster warming" party this Friday in his new digs at Huston-Tillotson.