When this man was in his 20’s, his life was focused on making money, having materialistic possessions and the pursuit of women. And of course, his goal was to become a millionaire by the age of 30. But by the time he was 24, life took a great turn and from being a drunk dude, he became a Dude Making A Difference.
In an exclusive interview with Life Beyond Numbers, 32-year old Rob Greenfield, the creator of The Food Waste Fiasco (a campaign that strives to end food waste and hunger in the US) shares what drove him to live a simple, effective life and show the world what sustainable and earth-friendly living look like.
“Live Simple, and You Will Live Free”
Rob hails from a small town of Ashland Wisconsin in the US and grew up with his three siblings. “Growing up, both of my parents were very much into living in a manner that’s less detrimental to the world that we live on. At a very young age, they both instilled in me a basic common sense of being good to the earth,” says Rob.
When he realized that his actions were causing disruption to the world he loves, in 2011 he started to learn more about the issues related to the environment by reading books and watching a lot of documentaries. “At that point, I decided to change my way of living so that it is beneficial to the earth, my community and myself. I wanted to inspire people and therefore, I transformed myself from a drunk dude to an activist.”
Rob’s work mainly revolves around creating awareness about food waste. “Food Waste Fiasco is very crucial to me. I collect food from grocery store dumpsters and lay it out in a public place to create a visual that helps triple understand just how much perfectly good food is going to waste,” he says.
What’s more? He has literally traveled without dollars- an empty pocket just to prove a point about human kindness.
In his quest to sensitize people about hunger and food insecurities, Rob cycled across the United States twice in 2014 using his bamboo bicycle as his sole company. He has dove into more than 2000 dumpsters across the US and demonstrated people how nearly half of all food items are wasted in this continent, while 50 million, i.e., 1 in 7 Americans are food insecure.
Two years later, in 2016, he landed in Rio, Brazil without a penny in his pocket on a mission to travel Panama, 7,000 miles and 7 countries away from his country, just relying on the goodness of humanity.
Life is More than Just Paying Bills
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”– Mahatma Gandhi’s life and works have inspired him so much that he has printed this quote and pasted it on his laptop.
“What makes me happy is living a purposeful and passionate life, knowing that I’m living in a way that actually serves others, especially earth, rather than taking away from it,” says Rob.
There is no doubt that life can be challenging at times, but getting rid of the unnecessary things in life is important if you want to be happy and feel contented. “For some people, going to work, doing things they don’t like and paying a bunch of bills can lead to stress. I find no point in making money for things I don’t really need. I do have other difficulties, but they are well worth it.”
He continues, “I do have many moments where I reassess the situations and make adjustments accordingly, but I have pledged to myself to never go back to the consumerist culture or way of life, but I will adjust as needed to get through tough situations.”
Since 2011, Rob has shifted from frivolous urban lifestyle to a minimalist lifestyle. He believes that true happiness, health, and freedom don’t come from the accumulation of money and possessions, but from a deep connection to our surroundings, loving people around you and taking care of natural resources that are freely available to us and using them in an efficient manner.
“My journey has helped me reflect on what matters and what doesn’t. I don’t throw away anything I get from nature, if unused, I deliver it to their home,” he says.
What Rob’s Daily Routine looks like
“My daily routine largely revolves around food and so I spend most of my time in the garden. Currently, I’m working on a project where I am growing and forging 100% of my food for a year,” says Rob.
Rob believes in the simplicities of life and helps people around him to connect with their surroundings, spend more time outdoors and slow down a little bit to enjoy the nuances of life. He has also set up 7 vegetable gardens for single mothers.
“Healthy food makes healthier human beings so I like to cook my meals and take care of my health through exercise and breathing fresh air. Also spending quality time with my friends is an essential part of my life. They helped me build a tiny house in the summer of 2018, where I’m currently staying in,” he says.
From his little home amidst nature, he is working on a lot of projects which take up a fair bit of his time and rest, he spends time on the computer doing media, producing videos and writing.
When asked where people should focus more on the standard of life than the standard of living, Rob says to LBN, “Everyone has to decide their priorities in life, it is not my decision to make. I choose to live this way so that I can set an example and show people what is possible. Most people will not step forward or do something until they’ve seen something like this done before. So by living my life in this manner, I hope to increase the possibility amid people to live an eco-friendly life.”
Rob is now working with the Live Like Ally Foundation, which is helping him with the funds for community fruit trees, free seed project and they have supplied the funds for community fruit trees, free seed project, and gardens for people.
“When hundreds, possibly thousands of volunteers believe in your cause, join it and help you with your mission, it validates the work you do in a way,” he says.
This man is endlessly thoughtful. His work is still in progress and this is just the beginning. On asking how he pictures himself 5 years from now, Rob says, “Right now, I believe I am living a very meaningful life and I hope to continue living in a similar manner for the rest of my life. I don’t want to change the person I have become today.”