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“Sustainability” professor sleeps in his office for seven months, then moves into dumpster

February 6, 2014

These people are teaching your children:

(AUSTIN, Texas) 2.4.14 — Proving the premise that people can live with less, Huston-Tillotson University’s Dean of the University College and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Dr. Jeff Wilson, will move into a 33-square foot dumpster for one year. On Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 1 p.m., (CST) movers will deliver Wilson’s new abode to the HT campus at 900 Chicon Street, completely furnished with zilch.

Wilson, a recognized expert in the fields of Environmental Science and Environmental Health, is also Executive Director of The Dumpster Project, a registered Texas nonprofit focused on transforming sustainability education. He leads the project with a multi-disciplinary team of designers, academics, and students.  In his role as “Professor Dumpster” at HT, he promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education focused on reducing carbon footprints in an engaging, entertaining format. He has intrigued students with his methods in his popular Freshman Seminar class.


Some students also plan to live in the dumpster.

That’s gonna be one crowded dumpster.

“The overarching goal of The Dumpster Project is to test whether one can have a pretty good life while treading lightly on the planet—all from a dumpster that is one percent the size of the average new American home,” Wilson said.

The dumpster transformation will teach students about the positive aspects of reducing the waste of space, water, and food. Wilson plans to use a dumpster as an experimental teaching tool in broad areas of sustainability, such as converting dirty water to clean, drinking water, and generating electricity to power electronic and home devices.

Before taking up residence in the dumpster, Wilson lived in his campus office:

[W]hen the lease ran out on his apartment…he posted an announcement on Facebook: “Starting at 6pm, I will be selling all of my home furnishings, clothes, kitchen appliances, and everything else in the apartment for $1 an item.” There was a five-item-per-person maximum.

By nightfall, his house was empty, except for a suitcase filled with dumpster-ready essentials, a Sun God totem from Kazakhstan, and a pair of lederhosen. “You never know when you’re going to need an authentic Alpine lederhosen,” Wilson says.

He hadn’t lost his mind, or his job at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. That was fortunate, since he spent the next seven months secretly sleeping on the floor of his office. “Keeping that secret for seven months, especially from the 3 a.m. cleaning staff and 24-hour security, much less the students and my colleagues, was interesting in itself,” he says.

I like the Kazakhstan touch.

Posted by Charlotte Allen


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