Texas professor converts dumpster into home

AUSTIN, TX (KTRK) -- A Texas professor is experimenting with just how little you may need in life to be happy.

Huston-Tillotson University professor Jeff Wilson sold all of his belongings, and has opted instead to live in a dumpster.

"I'm standing here in front of my home, which happens to be a 36 square foot, 8 cubic yard used trash dumpster," Wilson said.

For the past 9 months, Wilson has lived in the dumpster on the school's campus in Austin. At first, even members of the sustainable campus group "Green Is The New Black" expressed reservations.

"I didn't believe it at all. I'm like you're really going to live in a dumpster?" said Huston-Tillotson University student Charles Deshaw.

Wilson calls his move an experiment in getting everyone to think tiny.

"To explore the whole idea of less, what happens to your life when you compact the space and the amount of stuff you have," Wilson said.

When he first moved into the dumpster, it had no frills and looked more like camping. Now in phase two of "The Dumpster Project," it feels a little more like a home.

So much so, that Eyewitness News reporter Steve Campion was invited to spend the night in the dumpster. He took the trip to Austin on one of the coldest days of the year, with temperatures hovering just above freezing. He had a similar experience to one of Wilson's most frightening experiences in the dumpster.

"The most terrifying night was the second night. It was about 27 degrees interior temperature and exactly 4:01 a.m., the trash man came by and picked up two of my neighbors, a bit of a shock," Wilson said.

At the end of Campion's humble stay at the dumpster, Wilson's mission hit home.

"Foster a conversation and keep that conversation going. We don't know where that conversation is going to lead," Wilson said.

For now, he is only in the second phase of transforming the dumpster into the tiniest, sustainable living space.

His eventual goal is to use what he has learned and build the smallest home in Austin up to code.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.