A dumpster often brings to mind images of stinky garbage and skittering vermin but for some individuals they represent the ultimate freedom. Many creative dreamers across the globe have taken to re-purposing these trash takeaways into functional and adorable tiny homes. They come in all styles and serve many purposes from base functionality to energy-saving, cost-effective bungalows. This new swell of creative recycling has ushered in a new phase of tiny home building called Dumpster Living.
Why Would Someone Live In A Dumpster?
The reasons for shacking up inside a waste receptacle are as varied as the people who choose this life. With the world in a state of over-consumption and heavy waste output, some are trying to lessen their global footprint and be more environmentally friendly. For others the downsizing provides a relief from heavy financial burden. With the materialism and disposable mentality in the world today, many crave a simpler way of life. A life less governed by stuff and more about enjoying what is around them. Here are a few examples of folks who are dumpster living successfully.
In Texas, University College professor, Jeff Wilson, has turned dumpster living into a massive social experiment. Parked in a corner of the campus, Wilson encourages students to study the benefits of living simpler. He started out sleeping on bare cardboard and, over months, slowly implements various features to see what we absolutely need to live a happy life. His first feature after 6 months was a basic A/C window unit considering the box would climb up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the Austin heat. Wilson and his students monitor the social and environmental benefits of “Project Dumpster” and enacted phases such as solar panels, a shower and a composting toilet. The final phase was to have the dumpster looking and functioning like a completely sustainable tiny house.
Wilson thinks this experiment will show us how an over-populated world might be able to live and survive happily and still retain a good quality of life. It will also provide insight on how this small, sustainable unit can save energy, recycle basic elements and have a better impact on the environment. One thing Professor Wilson has noticed is that a lack of mindless amenities, like television, and a need to use laundromats have opened his eyes to the world around him. He walks through the Austin neighborhoods more often, has met so many new people and experienced such incredible things that would never have been possible if he were trapped inside with a Lazy Boy and a flat screen.
“Professor Dumpster” plans on having elementary school programs centered around learning the benefits of this unit and even allows advocate or university groups to spend a few days dumpster living. While still an experiment, Wilson claims it has provided him “a better life than I had before.”
Party Cubes And Houses For The Homeless
California designer, Greg Kloehn, is one resourceful artist. He enjoys using basic scrap materials found in dumpsters and on curbs to create art that speaks for itself and also serves a greater purpose. Kloehn created a dumpster house complete with compost toilet, running water, propane stove, storage compartments and movable cushions to create seating or lounge areas. His waterproof dumpster also boasts bubble wrap, aluminum and half-inch plywood insulation. Welding nuts to the dumpster’s exterior has allowed Kloehn to bolt on a myriad of features such as a shower head, shaving mirror and rooftop umbrella pole. Kloehn encourages visitors to his Brooklyn dumpster home to explore the basic features and often has police offers stopping by for hot dogs.
One of the best projects Kloehn has done is taken scraps and refuse from all over and created tiny homes for the homeless. With windows, doors, wood flooring and shelving, it provides a bit of security and escape from the elements for no cost. The only purchase Kloehn makes are screws, glue and paintbrushes because he recycles all of the other home building materials from the streets. After he’s finished, he gives each new owner a lock, key and a bottle of champagne. Another Kloehn project was attempting to turn shipping containers into an upscale bar and restaurant complete with a deck and DJ station.
Family Vacation Home
Jamie and Brad Bigelow wanted to create a dream sanctuary on their friend’s ranch among the beautiful boulders of Arizona. Looking for a cost-effective solution that would allow them to focus on the scenery, they purchased an old dumpster for $800. Brad and his family hung siding and drywall and created a huge wood deck from discarded scaffolding plank that they found. There is no electricity or running water but a small generator powers the lights and they have an outhouse right next door. The home is decorated with vintage lanterns and tables which give it a beautiful but rustic feel. The Bigelow’s love going out there to stargaze and only spent a mere 13K to complete the entire project.
Holland residents, Rikkert Paauw and Jet van Zwieten, created FOUNDation Projects, which is a concept of taking dumpsters and making them the foundations for tiny houses or meeting places. They collect waste material and discarded objects to build upon the dumpsters and make community spaces for folks to socialize. Their project, Straat Lokaal, collected waste and donated objects to build alternative bars and spaces for artists and entrepreneurs. Being able to be rolled around the city, this project promoted recycling and object re-use while shedding light on responsible waste disposal. The Dutch architects run many similar concepts through FOUNDation Projects and are often working on building custom items from wood pallets and scrap metal.
No matter what the purpose, with a little creativity and some elbow grease you could turn a dumpster into a functioning and quality structure. With the environmentally friendly features you can build in and the cost-saving customization, you can have a cozy home, bustling business or interactive meeting place. With the rise in cost of living and over crowding issues in particular areas, dumpster living may just be the next hot phase of real estate endeavors for those considering tiny homes. With a focus on enjoying experiences and not taking on more than necessary, dumpster living can hold quite an appeal. Just make sure not to park your future home on top of a hill.
So, Would You Be Able To Live In A Dumpster?
Comment below and tell us what you think about Dumpster Living!