Meet the College Professor Who Teaches His Classes in a Dumpster

Professor Jeffrey Wilson has taken green living to a whole new level.

Professor Dumpster, a.k.a. Environmental Science Professor, Dr. Jeffrey Wilson (Photo: Courtesy The Dumpster Project)

Oct 10, 2013· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

Just how far are you willing to go in the name of sustainable living? Recycling, driving less, and reducing your red meat consumption might already be part of your daily routine. And perhaps you’re just waiting for a three-day weekend to check off the next item on your green to-do list: Installing a compost bin in your backyard. But would you ever give up your apartment, sell off your possessions—and move into a garbage dumpster?

Probably not, but then again we can’t all be eco-purists like Jeffrey Wilson, a.k.a. “Professor Dumpster.”

An environmental scientist at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, Wilson plans to live in what amounts to an oversized metal box for the next twelve months, reports FastCoExist.

And his employer is buying in: Wilson’s bare-bones residence will serve as a classroom, with the professor and his students converting it into a livable, eco-viable dwelling. At first, he will survive in just the empty shell, curled up in a sleeping bag on the metal floor—or “dumpster camping,” as he’s calling it. “I'm essentially becoming part of the one percent,” he joked. “This dumpster is 33 square feet, which is one percent the size of the new American home in 2011.” Over time, he and the students will add a slew of green improvements to the trash bin: Energy-efficient light bulbs, nano-insulation, and even an energy-producing toilet.

The plan then calls for Wilson’s students to put what they’ve learned to use by enacting similar energy efficiency upgrades to their dorm rooms. And there’s even talk of a Professor Dumpster road show, with Wilson travelling to local grade schools to teach school kids the merits of sustainability.

He said his ultimate goal is to bring sustainability to the core of the college experience. “What we are talking about right now is to start a green movement within historically black colleges and universities [of which Huston-Tillotson is one], and become the flagship school of that, under an initiative called ‘Green is the New Black,” Wilson said.

Not everyone has given Wilson's year of living dumpster-ly a thumbs up, however.

“My ex-wife did not express a lot of encouragement in our [6-year-old] daughter sleeping with daddy in a dumpster, he said. "So that’s not gonna happen."