By Rob Greenfield / Special to the OB Rag
This spring I left my comfortable beachside home in sleepy Ocean Beach to wake America up. On April 16th I hopped into a van with a stranger from a Craigslist.com rideshare board, stopped in Santa Cruz to pick up a bamboo bike, and arrived in San Francisco a with a few days to prepare for a 4,700 mile bike ride across the USA.
The journey, coined Off the Grid Across America, was designed to inspire Americans to start living a more earth-friendly lifestyle for themselves, their community, and the earth.
To lead by example I followed a set of rigorous ground rules:
- only using electricity I created via my own solar panels,
- using water harvested from natural sources or that was going to waste,
- eating local organic unpackaged food or food that was going to waste,
- using no fossil fuels,
- creating near zero trash and shopping only at businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible.
104 days of bike riding through deserts, over mountains, across the Great Plains, and in urban America gave me a lot of time to gain a deep appreciation for what I have. Removing conveniences that I have grown accustomed to such as electricity, running water, and garbage cans, gave me a chance to see life from a different perspective. Some people go to school to learn about sustainability. I chose to live it.
So what did I learn?
While the trip was downright grueling, I realized that when you have less, you have more. I appreciated a small sip of water, a morsel of food, the last 3% of battery life on my computer, clean clothes, fresh air, smooth roads, and clean water to swim in.
Now that I can find joy in the simple parts of life, I can find sources of happiness for free everywhere around me. I can leave my house in OB without a dollar in my pocket and have a great day.
I learned the power of a bicycle. It is a relatively simple machine but it can take us great distances both figuratively and literally. Life is good when you are on a bike. Good for yourself, good for the earth, and good for the people around you. I ride my bike everywhere I go in OB.
I am so fortunate to have learned that if you live simply, you can live free. The less complicated you make your life, the more time you have to spend doing what you love and what’s good for you. Now that I am back home I have cut all the unnecessary junk out of my life so that I can be present with the world I live in and truly enjoy it. Certain things are great to have but if it doesn’t truly make your life more meaningful and enjoyable then it’s not worth having around.
I ate close to 300 pounds of food from dumpsters this summer and saw first hand the massive amount of waste that we create in America. I’m talking165 billion dollars worth of food each year. 30-50% of the food we produce in this country ends up in the dumpster. I learned that I can not only survive but thrive in America solely off the waste created by others.
Over the 104 days and 4,700 miles of my ride I managed to use just 160 gallons of water, create a mere two pounds of trash, plug into only five outlets, not switch on a light, and travel via my own power save one mile on a ferry into New York City. The average American uses 50 times more water, 600 times more fuel, 1000 times more electricity, and creates over 200 times more trash.
When I arrived back home in Ocean Beach in late August, I had an even greater appreciation for this beachside haven than I did before.
I’m thankful for the freedom that this place provides us and for the big blue ocean that accompanies us every day. You’ll often find me at the beach at the end of Santa Cruz Ave and from time to time you’ll see me picking up trash. I believe that we should protect and respect our home and beyond OB we should protect Planet Earth, the only home that us humans have. It’s the only refuge for 7 billion human lives. It’s the only safe haven for the millions of species of plants and animals. The earth harbors our water, our food, and our air and provides us with shelter. We need this place to live on if we want to continue on with the lives that we love so much.
Living to inspire a happier healthier way of living, I have a strong desire to help our community be a beautiful place. For the rest of 2013 I’m offering free seeds to any resident of Ocean Beach who’d like to create food or flowers. The only favor I ask is that you’ll share the seeds and the food with your neighbors. I also offer free guitar picks made from old hotel keycards to anyone who’d like them. You can contact me via RobGreenfield.TV and follow my adventures at www.Facebook.com/RobJGreenfield.
I also just launched a new adventure series that will make viewers rethink the way they interact with the world. The adventures focus on showing earth-friendly living, happiness, and health while being highly entertaining and inspiring. Guest adventurers and adventures will be chosen by the fans via Facebook voting. Visit Change the World with Rob Greenfield to learn how to win a free trip with me to Mexico.