College professor plans yearlong life in dumpster

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist John Fisher

KMOV.com

Posted on October 16, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 16 at 1:46 PM

AUSTIN, Texas -- It's not uncommon for many home owners to considering downsizing. But how about selling everything you own to move into a dumpster? That’s what a professor at Huston-Tillotson University is about to do.

"This is what's called an eight cubic yard dumpster," said Jeff Wilson, a Ph.D., in environmental science. 

Wilson isn't checking out dumpsters for safety reasons. He is sizing them up as a future home.

"Telling people you have life dreams, you want to live in a dumpster, it brings sympathy your way," he said.

But Wilson isn't looking for sympathy. The Huston-Tillotson professor is looking to pique interest in the area of sustainability.

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"We throw things into the dumpster and they just sort of magically disappear. And there's not much thought given to the processes behind that," he said.

Wilson says that's why his dumpster project is a perfect metaphor to spread the message that less is more.

"Through less consumption, in this case less than one percent of the average American home, you still can have a happy and fulfilling life," said Wilson

To better prepare him for this new venture in life, Wilson sold every personal item he owned for $1 apiece. He only kept what he could fit in a backpack.

Students now intrigued with the dumpster project admit they had their doubts at first.

“The first thing I asked him was ‘man it must be that huge heavy trash can dumpster right,’" said Maurice Fleming, an English major at the university. "He said, 'No it was only going to be about this big and that big.' And I said ‘are you going to live in it?’"

"I thought it was crazy," said Evette Jackson, a psychology and criminal justice major at HT. "But I think it's pretty intriguing. It's pretty cool. I want to live in it too."

Students will take turns living in the dumpster when Wilson needs a night or weekend off from the yearlong project.

"I think it's essential to really being part of the program," said Olivia Sanchez, a biology and environmental science major at HT. "How am I going to preach it if I really haven't lived it."

"Oh yes, it's on my bucket list," said Jelly Erazo, a political science major at HT. "I want to live in a dumpster. So, you could say it's on my dumpster list. There we go."

The first phase of the yearlong environmental studies project involves buying the dumpster, cleaning it, and then camping out in it more or less.  Phase two involves turning it into a fully functioning living quarters -- complete with toilet, washing machine, and even WiFi.

Wilson says he hopes to begin living in the dumpster later this year.

For more information on the dumpster project, click here.

 

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