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Rob is known as the guy who wore a month’s trash through the streets of New York City, totalling 60kg by the end of the month (don’t worry, he cleaned it before attaching to the ‘trash suit’). Rob 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 , 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 (which we talk about today!) to demonstrate how nearly half of all food in the U.S. is wasted while 50 million (1 in 7) Americans are food insecure. Other things we talk about are his waste reducing tips through the home, how he lives on so little, what his next ideas and projects are and more. If you want the positive motivation to take your waste DOWN a notch or 100 notches – you will love this show. I’m still smiling ear to ear from our conversation and the hope I have for our world.
What questions do I ask Rob this week?
- So 4 years ago you were still in an apartment but managing incredible low waste living levels, regardless. What were some of your biggest realisations? Why do you think that wasn’t enough for you – was it about understanding the potential of the use of extremes to communicate to a wider audience?
- You set off on a waste-free road trip, on a bike and while California was easy, once you got out of Cali you realised fresh food wasn’t always evident. Was dumpster diving for food premeditated or was there a bit of a darker realisation that you’d have to do that to complement the waste-free objectives? How was the ego / thoughts around what other people would think, as you embarked upon that first dumpster dive?
- And you clearly put your ego to one side on your NYC experiment to wear all your trash for a month, walking around NYC – What inspired that experiment to consume like an average American and show the results in such a physical / demonstrative way?
- And now – a year of foraging / growing 100% of the food you eat – How’s it going?
- Make things inconvenient for yourself and the ‘convenience factors’ change – like trash… We’ve sold such a lie on the convenience front. Jeans that are conveniently $10, Easy open liquid cheese, microwave popcorn… Someone or something is paying for that perceived convenience somewhere else and I’d love some of your biggest aha’s on this.
- I’ve heard you say “When I live simple, I live free” – For a lot of people though what you do seems extremely complicated – maybe because it’s such a massive departure from urban, modern life. Do you consistently find the way you live simple, or are there hard things you encounter despite having simplified to such an extreme?
- Often when people start to follow zero waste lifestyles they can feel inferior / de-motivated by never being perfect enough. How have you helped people stay motivated to keep exploring reducing waste on their terms / at their pace still making progress, even if all their trash doesn’t fit in a tiny jar at the end of a month?
- As you’ve said before, ego /social stigma were definitely factors in your journey and when offering up an idea for people to examine waste / reduction and change in their lives, it’s hard for people – close friends / family not to feel judged, even if you’re not judging them / being preachy. How did the super close people in your life take your low waste lifestyle. Was it like “Fine, Rob’s being super caring of the planet” for a while and then “Boy now dude – Too far! You’re crazy?”
- At the end of your life – what’s your picture of success, looking back?
- What are your top few things to recommend that people start on, lowering their waste?
Other helpful links to connect with Rob’s work and inspiring adventures?
Find out more about Rob and his projects HERE
Follow Rob on Facebook @RobGreenfield
Documentaries Rob mentions:
My book is OUT NOW! Europe to follow August 8th and the USA via Amazon early September Grab your copy HERE
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Low Tox. Happy us. Happy planet