How to Clean Your Dumpster – Branch Basics Teams Up With The Dumpster Project


How to Clean Your Dumpster: Branch Basics Teams Up With The Dumpster Project

We knew we were going to like Professor Dumpster when he signed his email “At your disposal, Jeff”.

If you’re ever looking for inspiration to live as a minimalist, Jeff is your guy. He even met his girlfriend on the “craziest OkCupid date ever” (her story is well worth reading!); the two went on a date in Turkey and 21 days later had traveled across 8 countries without so much as a suitcase. If only they had packed a bottle of Branch Basics soap for that trip!

Surely his friends and family were not surprised when about a year ago he mentioned to his new employers at Huston-Tillotson University that he’d like to move onto campus and live in a dumpster behind one of the buildings. Jeff, whose background is in Environmental Science and Environmental Health, said when he initially mentioned the idea, he heard crickets from the administration. They slowly warmed to the idea as he moved ahead with his plan and now are slightly less skeptical of his revolving cast of media, dumpster guests, and curious spectators.


Professor Dumpster has since been named Dean of the College at Huston-Tillotson and his new nonprofit, The Dumpster Project, is more than just a tiny home for Jeff. The Dumpster Project is now staffed with a team of designers, academics, and students who are reimagining the way students in K-12 schools learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), particularly in regards to transforming sustainability education. We knew we would have a lot in common with Jeff’s interests in education, environmental health, and sustainability.

The Branch Basics team members were the most recent guests knocking on Professor Dumpster’s metal door. We arrived with a bucket full of our new soap bottles, a set of brushes and rags, and announced that we were there to clean his dumpster. Allison, Marilee, and Kelly explained a bit of the history of the business – as Allison says, “Our message is so much more than soap”. In our similar pursuits to empower, education, and change people’s minds about health and sustainability, we picked a soap box and Jeff picked a trash bin.


“Do you really sleep here?”

Short answer: yes. Jeff also loves to host guests at his dumpster. A big fan of Couchsurfing, Jeff is fond of offering strangers his small space for a night or more. In fact, he’s about to celebrate his first anniversary of living in the dumpster on February 4th after which, Jeff will be embarking on a 100-day Couchsurfing adventure, and will begin staying in the homes of strangers all over Austin while his dumpster is occupied by different teachers and principals from local schools. The idea is that students will nominate their teachers for the honor of spending the night in the dumpster.

When we arrived, Jeff described his guests from the night before, who were two dumpster-divers from DC. In exchange for staying, they cooked him dinner from their local scavenging. From behind a nearby grocery store, they dumpster-dove for uncooked swordfish and cooked up a full dinner for 4, including Jeff.

For the dumpster’s next iteration, it will be redecorated with a “Schoolhouse” theme by the creative team behind the Austin home-goods store, Spartan.


“Where do you wash your clothes?”

Jeff had a quick response to that – he washes his clothes in the shower at the gym, for the most part. What doesn’t get laundered there, he totes home to his mom’s house every so often. After getting over the shock of that reality, we explained that he can easily adapt his laundry-in-the-shower routine to incorporate Branch Basics Soap to wash all his clothes, which seem to be in three major groups: gym clothes, blazers, and vintage hats.

“Do you still have nightmares about the trash truck coming for your dumpster?”

Not so much anymore. The dumpster is officially recognized by the college (it’s in the middle of campus) and Jeff has installed a full garden, solar panels, and an air conditioning unit. So there is less chance of the garbage crew making any mistakes about his tiny home.

“Don’t leave me with all that – I don’t have room for it!”

In true minimalist fashion, we couldn’t convince Jeff to keep even the Small Starter Kit. We left him with an All-Purpose spray bottle, which he told us he would use for all his cleaning needs, including everything from laundry to brushing his teeth. We’re proud to announce that Branch Basics is the Official Cleaning Soap for the Dumpster Project.


On the way out, we showed him how easy it is to clean his electric bike (from Austin-based Rocket Electrics), which is how Professor Dumpster gets around town.

As Jeff says, “Clean as a dumpster!”

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing such basic ideas to clean up the dumpster projects.Really helpful article and looking forward to implementing some of the ideas in our projects.


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