Rob Greenfield’s Biography
“Live simply and you will live free.”
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. three times 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 a book, Dude Making a Difference.
In 2016, he landed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil without a penny in his pocket. He was on a mission to travel to Panama, 7,000 miles and seven countries away, while relying only on the goodness of humanity. This adventure is a six-episode series called Free Ride on Discovery Channel that played worldwide. His travels have taken him to six continents and 45 countries.
Rob donates 100% of his media income to grassroots nonprofit organizations and his financial net worth is kept to a bare minimum. His financial vows are more than a list of resolutions; they speak to his steadfast commitment to live simply 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. Rather they come from a deep connection to our surroundings, the earth’s resources that are freely available to us all, relationships and love.
All of Rob’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 however, they contain 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. Through his life, he inspires others to make simple, small changes that grow into great change at a personal and societal level.
The Early Years
Rob grew up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in the small town of Ashland 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-La Crosse where he earned a Bachelor of Science with a major in Biology, a 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 he started his own marketing company, The Greenfield Group.
During much of Rob’s teens and early 20s 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 at the age of 24 when he started to become aware of the environmental and social issues of his generation. He learned through books and documentaries that he was contributing to many of these problems through his 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 a Dude Making a Difference.
He started with small changes such as shopping local, reducing the amount of trash he created, eating a more whole-food, local 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 altogether. 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 do no unnecessary harm to the lives of any. In 2014, he canceled his last bill and has since been living completely free of bills, debts and credit cards. Over time, he dissolved his company and started a nonprofit, Happy, Healthy and Free.
Rob lived off the grid in a 50-square-foot tiny home in San Diego, California. He grew a little of 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. 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 people without homes in San Diego.
After five years of downsizing and simplifying his life, he was down to just 111 possessions all of which fit into his backpack. He then traveled for two years in the service of others.
Rob is known by many as “The Trash Man” for his month long project wherein he consumed like the average American for one month and wore all the trash he created. The purpose of this project was to create a shocking visual of how much garbage just one person generates.
His third bike ride across the USA, Green Riders—Good Deeds on Bikes, was joined by over 30 others to plant gardens and do good deeds across the USA.
In 2017, he moved to Orlando to embark on his current project to grow and forage 100% of his food for a year. He lived in a 100-square-foot tiny house that he built with nearly exclusively secondhand materials with friends. During that time, he illustrated alternatives to the wasteful globalized food system. He also explored whether it is possible to positively influence such a system while living outside it.
Rob also uses public speaking as a tool to inspire change. Rob has spoken at over 150 events to more than 13,000 people in 13 countries. He has delivered two TEDx talks in London and Paris.
Rob’s adventures and his life have caught the attention of the world. He has been featured on thousands of media outlets including National Geographic, BBC, CBS This Morning, Discovery Channel, USA Today, LA Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post and many more.