Environmental Science Professor Jeff Wilson at the Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas lived in a dumpster for an entire year. Yes, you read that right, he lived in a dumpster, although not in the way you would first assume. Jeff chose a dumpster as his new home as part of an experiment to test the limits of home. He and a couple of other professors along with students began with a 33 square foot dumpster, a clean one of course, and made it into a surprisingly livable space. Jeff gave away most of his possessions and moved into the tiny space he would call home for the year. The project was a way to highlight the housing issue in the United States and all over the world, a problem that is quite complex and actually fairly old. Jeff explained that real estate as an institution is centuries old, but many wealthy families store their money in real estate making it difficult for those looking to rent or buy homes and land. Jeff's goal has been to "find the cracks in the system" as he puts it, to make things a bit easier for the average person. If you look at home buying trends, you'll find that many younger people, particularly millennials, are not buying homes. They are already tied down with student loan debts which makes it almost impossible to save money and housing prices are way too far out of reach.
So it makes sense to find a new way to create affordable housing for people so that homeownership isn't such a far off dream which is where the tiny house movement comes into play. But first, Jeff had to undergo his experiment in his very tiny space to wrap his head around downsizing in an extreme way. In 2014, he got his dumpster and put it on the university campus filling it with only the items he used regularly and that he loved. After a while he got the nickname "Professor Dumpster," and he stayed in the dumpster turned tiny house pretty much every night for the entire year. He made the space feel larger by painting the walls white and adding in creative storage solutions which made the tiny house space more livable. Although, there were still things he absolutely couldn't fit into the tiny dumpster home. Of course, there was no practical way to add a bathroom or a kitchen in such a small space. So he instead used the dorm cafeteria as his kitchen and the gym at the school for his bathroom. It's quite impressive how he completely transformed the inside of this dumpster to make it totally liveable for sleeping and lounging. He added brightly coloured tapestries and fabrics that really brightened up the space and brought in some character.
The experiment focused on creating housing that is healthy for humans and the environment. It expands our ideas surrounding what we call home by shrinking the footprint of our living space to allow for more financial freedom and less of an environmental impact. As Jeff lived in the dumpster tiny house, while he realized 33 square feet was much too small, he thought of different ideas to move this concept of small house living into a practical application, one that people could actually purchase and live in. So the Dumpster Project unfolded into Kasita, a company creating portable micro-apartments. Kasita could just be a solution to the housing issues we're facing at this time. The company makes 352 square foot tiny homes that are packed with technology and clever storage space. He showed one of the models at the 2017 South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. These tiny houses would cost around $139,000 per unit which would make for a mortgage of only $800 a month plus any land leasing costs. That seems pretty reasonable, and much more appealing than living in a dumpster.
More about this story can be found at: The Dumpster Project