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Prof. Dumpster leaping

Dumpster Project Phase III drawing

Prof. Dumpster laughing

Pushing the water barrel

On the phone

Hidden compartments

Garden

Baseline

It's bigger on the inside

Couchsurfing note

Laying out bed pad

'Star Wars' sheets

Mosquito net

Climbing in

Looking in from the top

Making coffee

On the trike

Prof. Dumpster and the dumpster cactus

Mailbox

Timeline

AUSTIN, Texas -- In a world of dwindling resources, the average American lifestyle is almost certainly unsustainable. Yet most people don't have a model for how to live differently.

That's what Jeffrey Wilson, aka Professor Dumpster, wants to provide. An environmental sciences professor and dean at Huston Tillotson University here, Professor Dumpster is in the middle of a project meant to prove it's possible to live super minimally, and super efficiently.

For a year, Professor Dumpster is living in a 33-square-foot dumpster -- outfitted, of course, for civilized living. But the goal is to do that living with zero waste, and extremely minimal use of power and water.

As part of Road Trip 2014, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman came to the Texas capital to see just how comfortable one can be living in a glorified trash can. Turns out, if you're willing to let go of a few creature comforts, it's not too bad.

Please click here to read my full story on the Dumpster Project.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Currently, the Dumpster Project is in Phase I, and Professor Dumpster and his team are actively trying to raise money to proceed to the next stages of the initiative.

This document shows what the project is intended to look like when it's much further along. With multiple stories, and a developed garden, this dumpster could be sophisticated living for the minimalist-inclined.

Caption by / Photo by Dumpster Project

Standing inside the dumpster, located at Huston Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, Jeffrey Wilson, aka Professor Dumpster, laughs and enjoys his 33-square-foot home.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

In its current state, the dumpster isn't connected to the grid in any way, which means that Professor Dumpster must get water the old-fashioned way -- by carrying it home. When he needs water, he pushes this water barrel, which holds 24 gallons, to Austin's Lady Bird Lake, an hour round-trip, where he fills it up. When he returns, he filters the water in order to make it potable.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Though the dumpster isn't connected to the grid, that doesn't mean Professor Dumpster is cut off from the world. He uses his iPhone to talk to people, and he spends much of the daylight hours at his university office, which is only a couple hundred yards away.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

At first glance, you can't tell where Professor Dumpster keeps any of his clothes, bedding, or other important supplies. Then he opens a lid, revealing several hidden compartments under the floor.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

One element of the Dumpster Project is to grow a sustainable garden alongside the dumpster. Tended by Professor Dumpster and his students, the garden is turning out several kinds of vegetables.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

As a way of demonstrating how much less energy and water he can live on than is used by the average American household, Professor Dumpster plans on installing a set of the average collection of household appliances next to the dumpster that he will use for a few months to establish an energy/water/waste consumption baseline. Then he will be able to compare his own usage to that of the baseline.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

As an homage to Dr. Who and the Tardis, Professor Dumpster has a welcome mat outside the dumpster that reads "It's bigger on the inside."

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Professor Dumpster has not been the only one to live in the dumpster. Because it is a demonstration project, many others -- including his students -- have spent nights there. But he also opened up the dumpster to users of Couchsurfing.com, prompting this note from the first person to ever use that Web-based service to find a bed in a dumpster.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Because the dumpster's interior space is so small, Professor Dumpster must keep his bedding hidden away until he needs it. Here, he begins to set up the bed, first laying out his sleeping pad.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Befitting a geek like Professor Dumpster, he makes his bed using "original" "Star Wars" sheets.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

To attach a mosquito net, Professor Dumpster uses magnets that attach to the metal walls of the dumpster. He also uses magnets to attach many other things to the walls, including drawings by his daughter and other children.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Professor Dumpster climbs inside his home.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The top of the dumpster opens and closes, and when it rains, Professor Dumpster closes it. Here, he looks in on his small home from above.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Professor Dumpster calls himself a cross between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Oscar the Grouch.  Here, he makes a cup of Turkish Coffee on the bench outside the dumpster while wearing his Oscar the Grouch cap.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

When he needs to get around, he tries to use pedal power -- meaning he rides this three-wheeled bike as much as he can.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Professor Dumpster looks over at a cactus sculpture made from the recycled metal of former dumpsters.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

This mailbox on the outside of the  dumpster is one sign someone lives inside.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The official timeline of the Dumpster Project. On Monday, the project canceled its Kickstarter due to insufficient funding. They had been seeking $100,000, but received less than $16,000.

The project is planned out well into next year, including a wide range of expansion and educational initiatives. Professor Dumpster is now hoping people will donate funds directly through its Web site.

Caption by / Photo by Dumpster Project
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