[Rob has a longer About page than most, but he also lives more authentically and by his values more than most, which this podcast focuses on, so I quoted the whole page. His experience and achievements prove wrong innumerable statements of how it's impossible to do this or that in today's world. Your style may be different than his, but you can choose to live by yours as much as he lives by his. The recording of our conversation is at the bottom.]
â€œLive simple and you will live free.â€
Rob Greenfield is an adventurer, environmental activist, humanitarian, and dude making a difference. He is dedicated to leading the way to a more sustainable and just world.
Rob is the creator of The Food Waste Fiasco, a campaign that strives to end food waste and hunger in the U.S. He has dove into more than two thousand dumpsters across the United States to demonstrate how nearly half of all food in the U.S. is wasted while 50 million (1 in 7) Americans are food insecure.
Rob has cycled across the U.S. twice on a bamboo bicycle bringing his message of sustainability and earth-friendly living to the United States. His first bike ride across the U.S. is also now a book, Dude Making a Difference.
In 2016 he landed in Rio, Brazil without a penny in his pocket on a mission to travel to Panama, 7,000 miles and 7 countries away, relying on the goodness of humanity. This adventure is a six episode series called Free Ride on Discovery Channel playing worldwide. His travels have taken him to 6 continents and 40 countries.
Rob donates 100% of his mediaÂ incomeÂ toÂ grassrootsÂ nonprofit organizations and his financial net worth is approximately $3,500. His financial vows are more than a list of resolutions, they speak to his steadfast commitment to live simple and live free. By living in this manner he aims to show that true happiness, health, and freedom do not come from an accumulation of money and possessions but rather from a deep connection to our surroundings, the earths resources that are freely available to us all, relationships, and love.
All of Robâ€™s extreme adventures and activism campaigns are meant to bring attention to important environmental and social issues and to inspire positive change. They may appear unattainable to some people but within them are an abundance of simple lessons and tips that can be adapted into any life to live in a manner that is beneficial to the earth, community, and self.Â Through his life he aims to inspire others to make simple, small changes in their lives that will grow into great change within them and within society.
The Early Years
Rob grew up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in the small town of Ashland (population 8,620) and had a passion for the outdoors from a young age. He spent seven years in Boy Scouts and achieved the top rank of Eagle Scout. In 2005 he left his hometown to attend University of Wisconsin â€“ La Crosse where he earned a Bachelors of Science with a major in Biology, minor in Chemistry, and a focus in Aquatic Science. During his summer breaks he worked 80+ hours per week selling educational books door-to-door and learned the skills of sales and marketing. In 2011 he moved to San Diego where shortly after he started his own marketing company, The Greenfield Group.
During much of Robâ€™s teens and early 20â€™s his life was focused on money, nice possessions, and the pursuit of women. He had the goal of being a millionaire by age 30. His life took a great turn when at the age of 24 he started to become aware of the environmental and social issues of his generation. Mostly through education from books and documentaries he learned that he was contributing to many of these problems through his simple daily actions including the food he was eating, the car he was driving, and the stuff he was buying and consuming. At that point he began his transformation from a Drunk Dude to Dude Making a Difference.
He started with small changes such as shopping local, reducing the amount of trash he created, eating a more plant-based diet, removing chemical products from his life, and using reusable bags and water bottles. Building on the success of these small changes he took greater leaps of change such as getting rid of his car, pulling all his money out of investments and banks harmful to the environment, and decreasing his dependency on money all together. Since he began his transformation he has adapted hundreds of small changes into his life in an effort to live for the benefit of many and to not harm the lives of any. In 2014 he canceled his last bill and since then has been living completely bill, debt, and credit card free.
Rob lived off the grid in a 50 square foot tiny home in San Diego, California. He grew his own food, lived purely on rain water (approximately two gallons per day), harnessed energy from the sun using solar panels, created near zero waste, and composted humanure (it is what it sounds like). After living this Teeny Greeny lifestyle for one year, Rob auctioned off his tiny house and raised enough money ($10,000) to build 10 tiny houses for homeless San Diegans.
After five years of downsizing and simplifying his life he now owns just 111 possessions, all that fit in his backpack and is traveling indefinitely in the service of others.
Robâ€™s adventures and his life have caught the attention of the world and he has been featured on thousands of media outlets including the BBC, CBS This Morning, Discovery Channel, USA Today, LA Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post, and TEDx.