Published on October 9th, 2013 | by Derek Markham1
Professor Moves into a Dumpster to Teach Sustainability
Sometimes the best ideas for conveying a concept are those that are outside our personal or cultural comfort level, or those that use a commonplace item in an unexpected way, so that they force us to rethink what we think we know. And because sustainability is one of those concepts that can be hard to get our heads around, either because the term itself is so broad or open to interpretation, taking a specific instance or application of sustainability and bringing it home through an interesting and off-the-wall project is a perfect way to pique people’s interest.
For example, moving out of your house and turning an average everyday trash dumpster into a sustainable home in order to raise interest about sustainable living and design isn’t quite what most people would consider a viable concept, unless you’re Dr. Jeff Wilson, Environmental Science Professor at Huston Tillotson University in Austin, Texas.
Wilson’s alter-ego is now Professor Dumpster, and his experiment in low-impact living will not just be a personal statement, but will also serve as an interactive teaching lab. The Dumpster Project will start with a standard used dumpster (measuring about 6 feet x 6 feet) and convert it into a 33 square foot micro-house with all of the amenities we’ve come to expect in our modern culture, but with a specific focus: to be net-zero.
“Every element of the dumpster will present a stark contrast to the consumption levels of the average American lifestyle. It will be a “net zero” model, meaning that it will consume only as much electricity as it produces through solar panels. Innovative systems will also be developed for water filtration, climate control, and waste reduction.” – Project Dumpster
Not only does the choice of using a trash dumpster as a home serve as a great catalyst for raising interest in, and talking about, topics such as consumption and waste, but it could also serve to be a potent reminder to all of us that to be truly innovative, we may need to take a radical direction in our thinking.
“What does home look like in a world of 10 billion people? How do we equip current and future generations with the tools they need for sustainable living practices? We believe promoting awareness and education in an engaging manner are critical to answering this question – and that’s why we got a used dumpster. With the help of Professor Dumpster and the Dumpster Team, the dumpster will transform from a barely habitable garbage container to a sustainable house and interactive teaching lab. From design to implementation, the lab will challenge students to apply their science, technology, engineering and math skills to every part of the renovation process. Professor Dumpster will need all the help he can get because he’s about to make the dumpster his new home address!” – The Dumpster Project
Wilson will live for a year in his new home, which, due to the inherent mobility of dumpsters, will be able to be moved around the state or the country as a traveling educational tool.
If you’re interested in becoming one of the backers for the project, details are available at the website.