Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Forget Dumpster Diving. Try Dumpster Living.

“What’s the smallest space you can happily and healthily live in using the fewest resources?”–it’s a question that Professor Jeff Wilson is trying to answer. In his quest for that answer, he’s going beyond shipping containers and tiny houses–the frequent vessels for extreme tiny-living. His tiniest of resource-sipping homes is a lowly, 33 sq ft dumpster.

Wilson, aka Professor Dumpster, is an environmental science professor at Huston Tilloson University in Texas. He and a team of experts have started the Dumpster Project as a case study in how 10 billion people (the estimate world population in 2050) might sustainably coexist on this planet…and also have a little fun while doing research.

The yearlong project will be broken into three phases. Phase one is called “Dumpster Camping.” From February to June of this year, Wilson is living in a dumpster without any electricity or running water (i.e. camping). He uses a camp stove to make coffee. He is wheeling water that he filters from a nearby lake. He is trying to establish a minimal resource use baseline.

american-homeThe second phase is the “Average American Dumpster Home,” which will run from July to December of this year. In this phase, the dumpster will be decked out with the accoutrement most American homes enjoy: air conditioning, dishwasher, refrigerator, stove, toilet and more (note: he’ll be adding a separate “utility closet” to hold some of these bulky items). This will phase will be “establishing a data baseline—average levels of consumption for energy, water and waste,” according to the project.uberThe final phase is “Space Capsule Über Dumpster,” which is basically making the dumpster into the trickest, off-grid home possible. There will be a popup roof, PV panels, rain catchment, garden and more. This phase will use the dumpster as a laboratory for sustainable, minimal resource, livable housing. This is opposed to camping phase which, though not resource-intensive, is not livable either; the insulation free interior of the dumpster was 116 degrees the other day.

We asked Wilson “why a dumpster?” He said there were a number of reasons. One is it’s never been done before; doing the project in the dumpster has called more attention to it than if it had been in a tiny house or something more conventional.

Furthermore, in the mini-documentary above, he calls the dumpster a “conversation box”–one that has attracted a broad spectrum of followers as well as a band of experts from around the country to lend their science and design knowhow. He also thought that the juxtaposition of the home–for most the paragon of security–with the dumpster–something many people have a reflexive revulsion to–would make that conversation all the more fertile.

Ultimately, the dumpster is just a vessel. The project is an applied and earnest–though not self-important–investigation into space and resource consumption. Wilson et al are holding a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the third phase. Check it out and lend your support.

  • Gm.

    It’s dirty, hard work, but somebody has to do it! Thank you for telling us this.
    Gm.

    • John Fitch

      Glad you enjoy. It can be dirty and tough, but Professor Dumpster will tell you that it has been the happiest he has been in his life so far. I have stayed in there myself a few times and it provides some interesting perspective on a number of things. I certainly don’t look at dumpsters the same!

  • Susan Moore

    Sounds interesting. But a metal dumpster in Texas? I hope someone will be looking out for him, sounds like a death trap…

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

      • Susan Moore

        That’s good John! I’m sure he’s going to get some great data, I look forward to reading it!

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

    • John Fitch

      It is beginning to get hot for Professor D, Susan! As the media partner, we are making sure to keep him safe and document the interesting moments. Nights aren’t too bad in TX, but it could be more comfortable. Phase 2 is soon to begin in the project, so he will be getting some cooling the average american way. We will be taking real-time data from the Dumpster at that point to be able to compare the improvement in efficiencies in phase 3.

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  • Helen_wow

    2nd series of two broke girls is just airing here in the UK, and one of the characters there lives in a dumpster! Interesting to see life imitating art – or is it the other way round?

  • Pingback: The Dumpster Project | The Better Awards()

  • Sara Welsh

    Wow, I would have never thought about living in a dumpster. I stumbled across this article because my friend needed help finding a dumpster to rent, but maybe she should look into buying it. It sounds like it would be an interesting life to live in a dumpster. Personally, I like my cozy home, so I don’t know if I could do it, but kudos to the adventurous people in the world!

    Sara Welsh | http://www.pequannockdisposal.com/dumpster-rentals/1973418