Rob Greenfield tracks just how much food waste, garbage and water people use every day - and how being conscious can drastically change the world for a better future.
Each year, the world produces over 2.2 billion tons of waste. According to The World Counts, 99% of everything we buy is trashed within 6 months. Most of this waste is tossed in landfills, where it can remain fully intact for hundreds of years. The 100 million tons of plastic produced each year, 10 million tons of which end up in the ocean, kill birds and sea-life in troves. We also waste hundreds of gallons of water, all which takes energy and resources that produce a lot of pollution.
In an effort to show that it is very possible to reduce the amount of waste we produce, environmental activist Rob Greenfield created his Sustainable Living Series that spans 5 episodes and covers his 4,700-mile bicycle trip across the United States. Greenfield is the creator of The Food Waste Fiasco, which campaigns to end food waste and world hunger. He is also the host of Free Ride on Discovery Channel and donates 100% of all of his media profits to grassroots nonprofits.
Two summers ago, Greenfield biked almost 5k miles from the west coast to the east coast with a few important goals for sustainable living. He vowed to only eat organic, unpackaged and local foods, reduce his water waste, buy used products or fix the items he already had, and reuse as much as possible.
Greenfield’s first episode hits some fairly unsettling problems as he struggles to find food products that meet all of his criteria. While there were some states that were better than others, such as California or Denver’s plentiful farmer’s markets and reduced packaging, other states produced acres and acres of food that was non-organic and covered in pesticides. After a lack of success finding unpackaged goods in certain grocery stores, he started to go around back, where he discovered a shocking truth: perfect, unspoiled food waste tossed in the dumpsters.
Over his journey, Greenfield ate over 200lbs of food from dumpsters behind grocery stores. These products were anything from piles of fruits and vegetables, packages of strawberries, packaged loaves of bread, dozens of cartons of fresh eggs and more. This food waste isn’t an anomaly, specific to these grocery stores. National Geographic estimates that store owners typically see in-store losses of over 43 billion every year.
Greenfield’s Sustainable Living Series also highlights how much paper or plastic trash a single person can produce if that person really wanted to. During his trip, he composted all of his food waste by burying it in forests and collected all of his other plastic trash in one small plastic bag. While the average consumer doesn’t need to go to these extremes, he proves a very important point about how reducing your waste is possible with effort.
He states that the average American produces over 4.5lbs of trash per day. It’s easy to throw trash away and then stop thinking about it; out of sight out of mind. So for this trip, he hung on to every single piece of trash he produced; which made Greenfield extra mindful of the amount of trash he produced. In order to reduce his trash, he focused on reusing, reducing and recycling; the three R’s.
Rob Greenfield’s Series, along with his copious amounts of environmental studies videos such as his Food Waste Fiasco Ted Talk, provide in-depth analysis of the manufacturing process that goes behind large-scale producing of products and then it’s waste and losses. True Activist will be keeping up with Rob Greenfield in his ongoing efforts to reduce waste and influence a sustainable lifestyle in the US and globally.
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