Rob Greenfield in Vienna

the green walnuts - Rob Greenfield in Wien
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Do you know great people who inspire and motivate you with their dedication to continue on your own path to a more sustainable lifestyle? Whose stories and projects you follow with amazement and who make you think: if they are so incredibly committed, turn their world upside down and spare no effort to have a positive impact – I surely can compost my own damn vegetable peels? No, just me?


“When I die, I can say I wasn’t on the side that destroyed the world.” Rob Greenfield


Thanks to the event series #kinodenktweiter (roughly, cinema goes beyond) at the Gartenbaukino, I had the pleasure to listen once again to an incredible environmental role model. Last autumn, Bea Johnson brought Zero Waste Home to Vienna. This time, zero waste was just a tiny part of the extreme environmental activism presented and lived by Rob Greenfield.


Rob Greenfield doesn’t call himself adventurer, activist and humanitarian on a whim: he truly lives to make the world a healthier and happier place with his eco-friendly actions and projects. He got my attention with a picture showing him walking in New York City – wearing his trash suit. For a month, he consumed produced as much trash as the average American. Every single piece of trash was put into the suit and displayed for everyone to see. People could no longer pretend that waste, they have thrown away, magically disappeard. Nope: Just because you throw it away, doesn’t mean it somehow seizes to exist.


“In a lifetime, you could leave a mountain of trash – or not. Just by dealing with your own trash, you could leave the earth with a less damaging impact. Just you, as an individual. Even if you never inspire anyone else, there would still be one less mountain of trash.“ Rob Greenfield


Trash Me is just one of many, many projects Rob Greenfield carried out after he started to move towards a sustainable lifestyle. In his presentation, he showed his transformation from a party-crazy college student to a bamboo-bike-riding, tiny-house-dweller.

There was not just a single moment that changed his whole perspective, but a series of realizations after educating himself on the environmental impact we all have. By and by, his worldview and his daily actions changed. His motto to this day is to begin small and gain momentum. With every tiny positive change, the next one will be easier.

By now, he lives with his 111 possessions out of his backpack, without a house or a car, mostly from dumpster diving and even without a regular shower (except on trips in hotels – because the warm water is just too tempting).


“The more you simplify your needs, the easier it is to fulfill them.“ Rob Greenfield


During his bike tour across the US, on which he aimed for the lowest possible environmental impact, he “discovered“ the American food deserts. Originally, he wanted to buy mostly local grown groceries without packaging. However, in some areas this was not possible. Everything was packaged, processed and of inferior quality. And a lot of it ended up behind the supermarkets in the dumpsters. His solution: dumpster diving.


To show people the food waste fiasco he collected food in various cities and displayed them publicly and appetizingly. Afterwards, everyone could take home what they could carry. The social stigma, coming with “ digging through waste bins”, magically disappeared when people saw the sheer amount of free food and did not have to jump into the bins themselves. #donatenotdump

“If you waste food, you waste everything that went into growing it, too.“ Rob Greenfield


I think, overall, waste isn’t really his thing 😛 On his entire tour across the US, he produced as much waste as an average American on a single day. He didn’t use water out of faucets, only from the sky or leakages. Instead of regular sockets, he used solar energy. While living in a tiny house (now auctioned off to build tiny homes for the homeless), he used his own humanure to fertilize his garden.


“Be authentic, there are enough people who are not.“ Rob Greenfield


Too extreme for you? Well, I think you are not alone. However, nobody has to live such an drastic lifestyle. Every tiny bit counts!


“It’s about moderation. It does not have to be perfect, just better. If we all did a pretty good job, the planet would be in a vastly different state.“ Rob Greenfield


What’s next for him? Another tour across the US to plant community gardens and plants for bees. And then? Then he will build his own tiny house framed by bee hives – with a glass wall, so he can watch them day and night.

bee hive
Such as in this coffee shop in Hokitika, New Zealand 🙂

You can find all his tips and how-to-guides here, e.g. how to live a near zero waste life.


What do you think of his actions? Are you feeling inspired and ready to start your own project? What would that be? 🙂


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