Rob Greenfield

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Rob Greenfield
Rob Greenfield wearing a plastic suit full of trash in New York City in 2016 during the Trash Me campaign
Greenfield during Trash Me campaign in 2016
Born (1986-08-28) August 28, 1986 (age 36)
OccupationEnvironmental activist, adventurer
Years active2013-present

Rob Greenfield (born August 28, 1986) is an American environmental activist[1] and adventurer.[2] He is known for raising awareness for sustainability issues, often through attention-grabbing tactics.[3]

Greenfield is also a writer, speaker, and ambassador to One Percent for the Planet.[4]

Early life[edit]

Greenfield was born and raised in Ashland, Wisconsin, where he was raised by a single mother, along with his three siblings.[5] At the age of 18 he became an Eagle Scout,[6] the highest rank in Boy Scouts.

After graduating from Ashland High School in northern Wisconsin, Greenfield attended the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.[6] He traveled to six continents throughout his time in university and upon graduation.[5] In 2011, Greenfield relocated to San Diego, California.


Through his adventures, Greenfield advocates for people to start living a happier, healthier lifestyle,[7] to give back to others, and to live a simple earth-friendly life.

2013: Off the grid across America[edit]

In 2013, Greenfield cycled 4,700 miles (7,600 km) across America on a bicycle made of bamboo to inspire Americans to live more sustainably. On this 104-day ride he used 160 US gallons (610 l) of water, created two pounds (0.9 kg) of trash, traveled via his own power except for one mile (1.6 km) on a ferry into New York City, plugged into five electrical outlets, and never turned on a light switch.[8]

On the journey, he carried out multiple campaigns to raise awareness about sustainability and how people can take action.[8] To raise awareness about water waste, he lived off a leaky fire hydrant for five days in New York City.[9] Later he cycled from New York City to Boston during a heat wave living solely on leaky faucets in a campaign called Drip by Drip.[8] About 70 percent of his diet came from dumpsters—he ate more than 280 pounds (130 kg) of food from grocery store dumpsters to bring attention to food waste.[10]

2014: A year without showering[edit]

Rob Greenfield bathes in nature instead of showers.

From April 2013 to April 2014, Greenfield spent a year bathing only in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and in the rain to raise awareness about consumption, water conservation, and living simply.[11] [12] He was quoted as saying, "We have to be aware of the origin of the things we consume every day, such as water, food, and energy. In this case I wanted to show how valuable water is and inspire people to conserve and protect it."[13]

2014: The food waste fiasco[edit]

Greenfield cycled across the US for the second time in the summer of 2014. In the first half of the ride, he volunteered at nonprofits, planted wildflowers and vegetables along his path, and promoted a healthy and waste-free existence.[14] He left home with $2,000 in cash, no credit cards, and upon arrival in Madison, Wisconsin donated his last $421 to a non-profit.[10] He then vowed to travel without money the rest of the way to New York City and eat solely by dumpster diving at grocery stores and convenience stores[10] to draw attention to and find solutions for food waste.[15]

Rob Greenfield and one of his Food Waste Fiascos

He held Food Waste Fiascos in major cities in which the edible food he found in dumpsters was displayed in one spot to show how much of it there is.[16] Greenfield said,

The stats are enormous—$165 billion worth of food thrown out each year, or about half of all the food we produce—but it's hard for people to wrap their head around numbers. Seeing a beautiful display of a couple thousand dollars' worth of perfectly good food pulled from dumpsters near them does the trick, though.[10]

The purpose of the campaign was to get grocery stores to donate the food they would otherwise throw away.[17] The primary reason corporations have given for not donating their excess food is the fear of liability if someone gets sick from eating it.[16] The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act shields food donors from liability and a 2013 study by the University of Arkansas School of Law shows there has not been a single case that involved food donation-related liability for a grocery store.[16]

2015/2016: Free Ride on Discovery Channel[edit]

In September 2015, Greenfield embarked on a journey to trek across South America with no money, instead relying on the goodness of others, making money from working, and sleeping rough.[18] He had 72 days to cross over 9,000 kilometers. The goal was to attempt to live by Rob’s philosophy that you can travel the world relying on just your ingenuity and the kindness of strangers. [19] It was filmed by documentarian James Levelle for Discovery Channel. The mini-series was 6 episodes and aired on Discovery Channel in May 2016.[18]

2016: Trash Me[edit]

In October 2016, Greenfield spent a month in New York City wearing all the trash he produced during the month on his body by storing the trash in a suit with clear plastic pockets, designed by trashion designer Nancy Judd.[20][21] It was a visual demonstration of consumerism in the United States and how much trash an individual can create.[22]

2017: Green Riders[edit]

In 2017, Greenfield organized a cross-country bike ride in which the bikers performed good deeds along the way, such as planting fruit trees, volunteering in community gardens, and picking up trash. The group of as many as 48 bikers travelled 3,700 miles from New York City to Seattle.[23]

2019: Food freedom: a year without buying food[edit]

From November 2018 to November 2019, Greenfield lived in Orlando, Florida and ate only food that he could grow and forage.[24][25][26] He grew over 100 different foods in gardens and foraged more than 200 foods from the wild, using skills he learned from local teachers.[27] At the same time, he lived in a tiny house (his second—his first was in San Diego) that he built from recycled materials.[28][29]

2020: Europe[edit]

In 2020, Greenfield toured Europe as part of his "World Solutions Tour".[30]

Personal life[edit]

Greenfield focuses on sustainable living. He travels barefoot, and mostly by bicycle.[16] He doesn't have credit cards or a retirement account and doesn't own a car.[17] What allowed him to live in this manner is giving up the desire to be wealthy.[17]

He aims to live a life that is beneficial to the Earth, to the community and self and aims to "lead by example and live it out loud".[31]

Greenfield doesn't have a cellphone since January 2015[32] and doesn't own a car since 2011.[33] In 2020 he had 44 possessions.[34]

Greenfield stated that Mark Boyle's books changed his life.[35]

He got a vasectomy at 25 because among other reasons he doesn't support the pharmaceutical industry and doesn't want women subjected to the hormones of birth control.[17][36] He is founder of Community Fruit Trees, Free Seed Project,[26] and Gardens for the People.[27] He has vowed to earn less than the federal poverty threshold each year, donates 100% of his media income to grassroots non-profits, and his financial net worth is kept to a bare minimum.[25]


  • Greenfield, Rob (2016). Dude Making a Difference: Bamboo Bikes, Dumpster Dives and Other Extreme Adventures Across America. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers. ISBN 9780865718074.
  • Greenfield, Rob (2022). Zero Waste Kids: Hands-On Projects and Activities to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. The Quarto Group. ISBN 9781631599415.
  • Greenfield, Rob; Banyard, Antonia (2022). Be the Change: Rob Greenfield’s Call to Kids—Making a Difference in a Messed-Up World. Greystone Books. ISBN 9781771645911.
  • Greenfield, Rob (2022). Food Freedom: A Year of Growing and Foraging 100 Percent of My Food and Why It Matters. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers. ISBN 9780865718968.


  1. ^ "Environmental activist Rob Greenfield goes off the power grid on cross-country bike trek to promote sustainability". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  2. ^ "Biking across the country for the planet with adventurer Rob Greenfield". 2013-07-23. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Rob Greenfield Dumpster Dives to Save the World from Food Waste Fiasco". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Off-Grid Cross-country Cycle". Mountain Life Annual. Archived from the original on 31 August 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Bike-Riding Do-Gooder Planting Flowers and Picking Up Trash One City at a Time". Yahoo! Shine. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Eagle Scout's ride across America can inspire your Scouts to stay the course". Scouting Magazine. 2013-10-03. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  7. ^ Little, Joe (9 September 2013). "Ocean Beach man promises to ride across United States if one-of-a-kind bamboo bicycle returned". KGTV. Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  8. ^ a b c Greenfield, Rob (2013-08-16). "Cycling across America: lessons in sustainability and happiness". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Cross-country on a bamboo bike". Connecticut Post. 2013-07-19. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d "All of environmentalist Rob Greenfield's meals come from trash receptacles behind grocery and convenience stores". TakePart. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  11. ^ Zarrell, Rachel (30 April 2014). "Meet The Guy Who Just Went A Year Without Showering (And Isn't Stopping)". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Lessons Learned From a Year Without Showering". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  13. ^ "En fotos: el joven que no se ha duchado en un año por una buena causa" [In photos: The young man who hasn't showered in a year for a good cause]. (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  14. ^ Geyer, Allison (9 August 2014). "Ashland man biking cross-country to highlight food waste". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  15. ^ Markham, Derek (1 September 2014). "Activist fuels his bike tour with dumpster food to call attention to Food Waste Fiascos". TreeHugger. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  16. ^ a b c d Wisely, John (31 August 2014). "Dumpster dining: Environmentalist fights food waste". USA Today. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  17. ^ a b c d Semuels, Alana (15 October 2014). "Activist dives in dumpsters across the U.S. to highlight food waste". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  18. ^ a b "Free Ride". IMDb. Retrieved April 23, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ "Free Ride". Discovery Channel. Retrieved April 23, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Bowerman, Mary (30 September 2016). "Man pledges to wear all the trash he produces for 1 month". USA Today. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  21. ^ Schmitt, Kristen A. (14 October 2016). "Meet an environmental activist and an artist who share a passion for 'trashion': One man's trash suit is another woman's work of art". Smithsonian. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  22. ^ Greenfield, Rob (27 September 2016). "Watch This Man Walk Around NYC Wearing His Trash". Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  23. ^ Limmer, Julia (August 17, 2017). "Northport Biker Makes Cross Country Trek". Long Islander News. Retrieved May 23, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ Santich, Kate (8 November 2019). "Orlando's Rob Greenfield survives year of growing, foraging all of his own food". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  25. ^ a b Peters, Xander (3 April 2019). "Life according to the Orlando activist who's growing or foraging everything he eats for a year". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  26. ^ a b Schmitt, Kristen A. (15 March 2019). "This man will eat only what he can grow or forage—here's why". National Geographic. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  27. ^ a b Greenfield, Rob (19 December 2019). "I didn't buy any food for a year—and I'm healthier than I've ever been". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  28. ^ Hanes, Kristen (18 March 2019). "Florida environmentalist builds his own tiny house for $1,500". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  29. ^ Gander, Kashmira (16 December 2019). "What Environmentalist Rob Greenfield Learned From Foraging and Growing All His Food for a Year in Orlando, Florida". Newsweek. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  30. ^ Collins, Jennifer (16 March 2020). "Meet Rob Greenfield, aspiring millionaire turned radical environmental activist". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  31. ^ Gill, Enrique. "Cycling across the country barefoot in search of a simpler life". Mother Nature Network. Archived from the original on 12 July 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  32. ^ Greenfield, Rob (2015-08-27). "Why I Got Rid of My Cell Phone - Rob Greenfield". Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  33. ^ Greenfield, Rob (2015-07-14). "Selling My Car… Bought My Freedom - Rob Greenfield". Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  34. ^ Greenfield, Rob (2020-02-28). "My 44 Possessions: Everything I Own Fits in My Backpack - Rob Greenfield". Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  35. ^ Greenfield, Rob (2016-03-02). "Mark Boyle's Books Changed My Life - Rob Greenfield". Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  36. ^ Greenfield, Rob (2014-04-29). "Why I got a Vasectomy… at age 25. - Rob Greenfield". Retrieved 2022-09-04.

External links[edit]