Frequently Asked Questions about Robin Greenfield
I am so happy you are here!
My life is my message, which means that I share a lot about my life with humanity.
I have chosen to be the change that I wish to see in the world, which means that my being is what I often discuss.
My philosophy for change is action based. It is my personal actions that I use as a means of creating critical thought and self-reflection.
I have chosen to live simply and sustainably as a means of living in truth and integrity. As a means of living in harmony with Earth, humanity and our plant and animal relatives. As a means of liberation from oppressive and exploitative systems and the dominator culture. Living simply and sustainably often goes against societal norms and standards.
So, it’s only natural that my existence would raise a lot of questions. I want you to wonder! I want you to ask questions! And through this sense of curiosity about me, I want to introduce you to an alternative way of existing. I want you to see that another way not only is possible, but many others are already living it!
I want to help YOU liberate yourself and become the change that you wish to see in the world.
In the pages ahead, I have answered one hundred of the questions that have been most frequently asked about my life over the last decade. Some I have answered with brevity and some with incredible depth. Rarely are my answers a simple yes or no. There really are no simple answers to the most difficult questions. And my purpose is to create critical thought and self-reflection on some of the biggest questions of life.
Although I seek to live in truth and integrity, there is not perfect consistency in all of my answers and views. My life is an experiment and I haven’t figured it all out. At times, you may think that I contradict myself. Perhaps I do, or perhaps I have not shared with you my entire stance on the subject. We are all complex humans that have a whole range of motives for life. I’ve worked diligently to both understand my motives and to transparently and truthfully address them. Yet, I will be the first to tell you that I have not attained the exact life that I want to be living nor do I understand myself fully or the topics I dive into. You do, however, have my commitment to tell the truth as I know it and never lie.
Before getting to the answers to your questions, here are a few tips to use this page most effectively:
Try skimming through the page first to see what questions of yours might be answered.
Use the “Command F” feature on a Mac to search keywords that might help you find the answer you are looking for.
You are welcome to read the entire page from start to finish.
Many of the answers include links that I have provided in hopes to answer your questions with more depth.
The search feature located on the upper right of the website can be a very helpful tool. Simply type keywords or phrases into this search feature and the most relevant pages on the site will be displayed. Try a few different keywords to find what you are looking for.
To learn more about me, navigate this website most effectively and find the resources and guides to help you on this journey, I recommend the Start Here Page.
You can also see a complete list of everything on this website on the Table of Contents.
This FAQ was last updated November 24th 2023
General Questions About My Life
What is your purpose? What do you do?
Thank you for asking this! I am often asked this in person and I have a very hard time giving a short response. What I do is quite diverse and intricate. To answer this question, I have written in extensive detail about my life design, my purpose and my mission here.
What was the reason you decided to change your life?
In 2011, I was living a fairly typical US American lifestyle. I was pursuing the American Dream – focused on material possessions, financial wealth and how society perceived me. I was running a marketing company and I was on the path of reaching my goal of being a millionaire by the age of 30. I was happy, healthy and loving my life.
Then something happened and I realized that I couldn’t continue on in this way… It became clear to me that I would have to radically transform my life if I wanted to continue down the path of happiness, health and success. I realized that nearly everything I was doing – the food I was eating, the car I was driving, the stuff I was buying, the trash I was creating, even the water I was drinking – was causing extreme destruction. I was both complicit and actively contributing to systems of exploitation and oppression against Earth, humanity and the plants and animals we share this home with. I realized I was living a life of hypocrisy. My actions were not in alignment with my beliefs.
So what happened that made me realize that I was going to drastically change my life? Was there a moment of enlightenment or an aha moment? Was there a near death experience? Nope! I simply started to watch a lot of documentaries and read a lot of books and became educated on the state of Earth and our humanity. I learned that I had been fed a lot of misinformation by the government, corporations and society. It was time to take my life back and live a life of truth and integrity.
I share my awakening and reason for changing my life here.
What were the first changes you made?
When I first decided to transform my life, I made a list of over 100 changes I wanted to make. I hung that list in my kitchen where I’d see it every day. I made a goal of making at least one positive change per week with the idea that I could make 100 changes in two years with this strategy.
I started by eating more whole foods, fruits and vegetables and cooking at home. I got a water purifier to drink the water from my faucet at home. I downsized my life greatly. I looked at many of the ways I was creating trash and found waste-free alternatives. I started composting, growing some of my own food, foraging a little bit, riding my bike, using cash instead of credit cards, supporting local businesses, buying secondhand items and sharing with my community.
I documented my changes here and I’ve shared my list of my first 100 changes here.
Is Greenfield your real last name?
Yes, Greenfield is my real last name. The full name given to me at birth is Robin Julian Greenfield. Greenfield is my mom’s last name and she chose to give me her last name because my dad was not very present in our life. The name Robin comes from a robin bird that was nesting outside my mom’s window when she was pregnant with me, as well as my dad’s love for Christopher Robin from “Winnie-the-Pooh”. Julian comes from a relative on my mom’s side who’s name was Jules.
From the time I was 12 to my mid-thirties, I went by Rob, but I have returned to Robin.
You can read about my return to Robin here
Where do you live?
I lived in San Diego, California from 2011-2016; Orlando, Florida in 2018-2019; St. Pete, Florida in 2021 and I moved to the Asheville, North Carolina region in the summer of 2021, which is where I am currently based. I spend much of my time traveling and my main bases currently are my homeland of Northern Wisconsin on Lake Superior, Madison, Wisconsin; Asheville, North Carolina; the St. Pete, Florida area and Southern California, including San Diego and Los Angeles.
I have a page that I keep updated with where I am now.
Will you ever “settle down” in one place?
I may end up living long-term in one place or I may continue this lifestyle of living for shorter periods of time in different regions. Only time will answer this question. Although I do not live in one spot, it is not necessarily an “unsettled” life. The Earth is my home and by developing wholeness and completeness within I can feel at home wherever I am.
Do you own land? Whose land do you live on? Will you ever own land?
I do not own land and have never owned land.
When I lived in tiny houses in San Diego (2015) and Orlando (2018-2019), I did a work exchange with the owners of the land. When I am staying long-term in any one location, I create mutually beneficial relationships to meet my basic need for lodging while contributing to the well-being of the person who tends the land that I am making my temporary home.
I will never own land, but my plan in the long term is to create an educational center where people can travel from around the world to learn to live in harmony with Earth, humanity and our plant and animal relatives. This land will be held in a land trust.
Are you married? Do you have children? Will you ever get married?
I am not married and I do not have children.
At the age of 25 I got a vasectomy because I was certain that having children and a family was not my life path. I’ve embraced humanity as my family and Earth as the shared home for this family.
I will never get married. I’ve written about My Views on Marriage and Life Partnership here.
How would you live like this if you had children?
I have been very intentional about not having children, but if I did choose to have children, I would have made that choice with intentionality as well. If I did have children, there would be elements of my life that would be quite different, but my life of living in truth, integrity and in harmony with Earth would still largely be the same. I have many, many friends who have children and live similar lifestyles to me. For those looking for advice on living with children alternatively to the mainstream, see “What is your advice for families that want to live more sustainably?” below.
Why did you get a vasectomy?
I answer this question in depth here: Why I Got a Vasectomy… at Age 25
If everybody lived like me… then what?
I answer this question in depth here: If Everybody Lived Like Me … Then What?
You are dependent upon other people. Shouldn’t you just get a job?
My lifestyle does not conform to the societal standard of having a 40-hours per week job, but I contribute to society and my community as much or more so than many people who work 40 hours per week. I have embraced our interdependence and see independence through monetary means as a delusion. I have chosen to live with a deeper sense of sharing and connection with my community through transcending independence and weaving interdependence into my life through non-monetized relationships.
I answer this question in depth here: On Independence versus Interdependence
Are you a spiritual person? Do you believe in god? Do you have a religion?
I would love to be able to answer this question in only a few sentences, but my views on this are quite intricate. I answer this question in depth here: Am I Spiritual? Do I Have a Religion?
You don’t have any forms of identification? How does that work?
In 2016, I got rid of my driver’s license and social security card. In 2022, I got rid of my passport and birth certificate. Since June of 2022, I have been living without any forms of official identification and there are no copies anywhere that I know of or have access to.
I have written a more extensive article that explains my choice to not have identification and some of the logistics of that, including how I travel, here: Why I don’t have an ID.
How do you travel without a car?
In my daily life, I ride my bike to accomplish most of my basic tasks. I installed a basic bike rack on my bicycle and have bike bags (also called panniers) which allow me to transport most of what I need on a daily basis. I have also used bicycle trailers for more substantial projects.
For trips that I choose not to do by bicycle, I generally coordinate a ride with someone who is already making the trip or with someone who is happy to make the trip with me. This involves carpooling and ride-sharing. I find these rides through friends, family, people in my community, Craigslist ride share and people who follow me on social media. I have also hitchhiked thousands of miles. With much of my service, I work with teammates who have vehicles and they often drive to places where we need to go.
My long distance travels are often by bus (Greyhound, Megabus and FlixBus generally) and train (Amtrak) or by ride-share as outlined above or hitchhiking.
Of course, the key is to plan ahead and to minimize my needs for fossil fuel- powered vehicles by coordinating my trips efficiently. That said, with my activism and service, as well as my personal life, I am in fossil fuel-powered vehicles much more than I would like to be.
Do you fly?
I do not currently fly in airplanes. My last flight was in early 2020.
I write extensively about my protocols for flying here: Taking Responsibility for My Flights
How do you feel about the impact of travel?
Travel is not inherently destructive, and I am an advocate for sustainable transportation and sustainable living during travels, so at the heart of this question is traveling while using fossil fuels. This is certainly one of the hypocrisies that I am living. I have taken extensive measures to reduce this hypocrisy, which I have outlined in detail in Taking Responsibility for My Flights, but I still burn much more fossil fuel than I would like to. I maximize my usage of shared transportation and getting into vehicles that are already traveling to my destination. Yet, I still contribute to the status quo of burning fossil fuels. I believe that my life design is successful in regard to utilizing the resources available to me, sometimes in a destructive manner such as burning gas, but in a manner that overall contributes to the world that I want to live in.
What is your carbon footprint?
Given the substantial changes I have made in my life and my dedication to living in harmony with Earth, my carbon footprint is still much higher than much of the world’s population.
“The poorest half of the world’s population – 3.5 billion people – is responsible for just 10 percent of carbon emissions, while the richest 10 percent are responsible for around half of greenhouse gases. And a person in the wealthiest 1 percent uses 175 times more carbon than one in the bottom 10 percent, an Oxfam report from 2015 found.”
I am far below the carbon footprint of the financially wealthiest 1 percent, but my impact is much higher than likely multiple billions of people.
That said, I don’t measure my life in these numbers because the work that I do – sometimes at the expense of lowering my own carbon footprint – decreases humanity’s overall carbon footprint. Hosting my website, YouTube channel and social media pages likely has a higher carbon footprint than some humans’ entire carbon footprint. The strategy that I choose for my life and activism is to make the most net positive change and that does not happen in a linear path. It is not black and white; rather, this path exists with many shades of grey. I still have responsibility to take for my own footprint, but overall, I believe I am living with integrity in this regard.
Do you have role models, teachers or mentors?
Yes, I have many people that I look up to.
Some of my earliest inspirations on this journey were Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Yvon Chouinard, Michael Pollan and Mark Boyle, to name a few.
My current greatest influences are Mahatma Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, H.H. The Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vandana Shiva, Angela Davis, Leah Penniman and Robin Wall Kimmerer.
I have shared a list of the people that influence me most here.
Although my greatest influences have been major world leaders, I have many teachers and mentors that I engage with on a personal basis. Steve Torma has been one of my most substantial mentors in the ways of Compassionate Communication. Linda Black Elk, Amanda David, Christinia Eala, Doug Elliot, Ron Finley, Lyla June Johnston, Samuel Thayer, Leah Thomas, Jordan Marie Whetstone, Sean Sherman and Tristram Stuart are colleagues and many of them Dear Friends who have been guiding forces for me. I have learned a substantial amount from each of them and I am who I am today, in part, because of their life work and my interactions with them. Some of my close friends are also my greatest teachers and have helped me to grow substantially over the last years including Ella Dufrene, Liz Virgo, Phi Ranglin, Chantal Lemoine and Ashlie Thomas.
Do you smoke marijuana? Do you support legalizing marijuana?
Yes, marijuana has been an incredible medicine for me. In my younger years, I did not have a healthy relationship with the plant and I stopped smoking for seven years from 2013-2020. In 2020, I started to smoke marijuana on occasion and it has been one of the most life-giving forces. Yes, I fully support the legalization of marijuana. I do not believe in making any plants or life forces illegal.
I write about this extensively here: My Relationship to Plant Medicines, “Drugs” and Drugs
Do you have a team of people behind you working on these projects?
Yes, I work with many people in order to accomplish my mission in life. This team varies substantially based on what projects I am working on.
From 2020-2022, I had a team of people living and working together in service. Since 2020, I have generally had a full-time or part-time assistant working with my nonprofit Regeneration, Equity and Justice, although not always.
Generally much of my team is through short-term collaborations to carry out different activism campaigns. I have worked with many filmmakers to produce the hundreds of videos that I have.
I have had many people volunteer with me or work part-time with me to carry out the day-to-day operations of my activism and non-profit including managing the communications and social media.
How does your privilege affect your life? Do you know that you have privilege?
Even though I grew up less privileged than many others in my community, from a global and national perspective, I have an incredible amount of privilege. Among 13 different dominant social groups and oppressed social groups, I am part of ten of the dominant groups and only three of the oppressed groups. By living with these privileges, my day-to-day life is so much easier than for many who are struggling to liberate themselves from systems of oppression and exploitation, to be seen as a full human and to access their basic human rights. Everything that I do is affected by the privileges that I have.
I write about this extensively here: On Understanding and Acknowledging My Privilege
This United States was founded upon slavery and we exist today in the New Jim Crow era. How do you benefit from this as a white man?
The nation that I have lived my whole life in and benefited greatly from was founded on the slavery of millions of people stolen from Africa. This nation was built generation upon generation on the exploitation of Black and Brown Americans and Black and Brown communities around the world. This nation exists today under institutionalized and systemic racism and segregation (resources to educate on this here). Although certain forms of exploitation and oppression have been overcome, they have been replaced by The New Jim Crow era.
The United States was founded on genocide of Indigenous people. How do you serve as an ally to Native American communities?
This nation was founded on the genocide of millions of Indigenous people who were here before the European settlers arrived on this land we now commonly call the United States of America. Turtle Island was home to over 500 distinct cultures of Indigenous people living with a close connection to Earth.
It was central to the colonizers’ mission to destroy these cultures and destroy their connection to Earth. It was central to the colonizers’ mission to control the land and resources that the Native Americans lived upon. It was central to their religion to take what they believed to be rightfully theirs.
To many Americans alive today, this is the past. But this is not the past. The past formed the present and it has been brought into today. Although the oppression and exploitation has changed in shape, Native Americans are still the most exploited and oppressed humans on this continent. They are the least provided for by this nation and their communities suffer under institutionalized and systemic racism and segregation.
I have written about this more extensively here: I am on Stolen Indigenous Land
What is Nonviolent Communication (NVC) or Compassionate Communication?
The purpose of NVC is to make life more wonderful! It is a practice of personal liberation through our thoughts and our communication. It is a language built around empathy, which is to put attention on people’s feelings and needs. It is a language centered on living in gratitude, sharing appreciation and living in celebration of life. Compassionate Communication is one of my central practices for personal liberation and tools for liberation of humanity.
I answer this question in depth here: My Experience with Nonviolent Communication (NVC) / Compassionate Communication
What motivates you? How do you keep going in difficult times?
What motivates me is a basic search for truth and integrity. It is of the utmost priority to me to transcend delusion and the mundane and to live in a high state of truth and integrity. Thus, my life is not altruistic or selfless. I am motivated to liberate myself from the dominator society.
I am motivated by meeting my own basic needs, including the needs to belong, to be loved, to be acknowledged and to be a part of community.
I am motivated by a deep desire to live close to Earth and free of oppressive, exploitative systems.
What motivates me is my simple belief that life matters. I believe that my life matters, that your life matters, that all humans matter and that the life of all of the plants and animals that we share this home with matters. I value life. Justice and equality are central beliefs of mine that drive me in all of my interactions. On most days, I do not get overwhelmed by what I can’t do, because I am focused on what I can do to honor life. This is motivating because each day I can find success.
I am also motivated by ego and a desire for success. It is part of my life purpose to overcome unhealthy elements of these motivations and to utilize these motives as a tool of service.
There is so much that motivates me, but these are some of my motivations.
How do you find peace within?
I find peace within through putting a large amount of my time and energy to creating a space for peace within. As my mission is to help us liberate ourselves from oppressive, exploitative systems, I believe that the greatest service that I can offer to humanity is to first liberate myself. Thus I have dedicated years of my life to this cause of finding peace within.
I have learned what creates peace within me and I am diligent about bringing those resources and practices into my life.
I find peace in being outside breathing fresh air, connecting with Earth; often through extended immersions; eating whole foods from the Earth especially through growing food and foraging; by drinking pure water; by knowing that I am living a life of integrity and truth; by practicing silence and spending ample time alone; by moving my body through physical exercise and stretching; by getting ample sleep; by maintaining balanced relationships with people I love; by living a life of meaning and purpose and other practices.
Two of the practices that have helped me to find great peace within are the practice of Compassionate Communication and Vipassana, which you can read about in depth here: My Ten Days of Silence – Vipassana Meditation
Questions on Money
How do you make money? Do you have a job?
I have committed to earning below the federal poverty threshold and since 2014 have earned less than $10,000 per year. To make a living, first and foremost I have demonetized my life so that I have much less money to make. The money that I do make is from public speaking at universities, schools, businesses, cities, events, etc.
Because I do not need much money, I do not need to do very many speaking events to earn what I need. Most of the financial resources that I raise go directly to grassroots environmental nonprofits.
Although I have had a TV show, that was not a job. 100% of the money was donated. Although I have written four books, I do not consider myself an author and writing is not my job. Although I manage the nonprofit Regeneration, Equity and Justice and have managed many people, I do not get paid to do that and even at times when it feels like work, I do not consider it a job. My job is to be of service to Earth and humanity and my means of accomplishing that vary from day to day and year to year.
How much money do you make from your YouTube channel? From social media?
I have never monetized my YouTube channel, nor have I monetized my social media pages.
I do not personally make any money from these outlets.
Although I certainly could make money from these outlets, I personally have chosen to donate 100% of my media income directly to grassroots nonprofits. So if I did monetize it with ads, the money would be donated directly to nonprofits. However, the money that would generate is not worth losing the integrity of keeping my content ad free as of now.
I have done paid social media collaborations, of which 100% is donated directly to grassroots nonprofits. You can read about this in depth at My Commitment to Financial and Corporate Transparency
What is your net worth?
Since 2015, my net worth has remained under $15,000.
I document my net worth here: My Net Worth
Do you pay taxes?
In 2015, I committed to not pay federal tax for my lifetime as a tax resistor. Instead of contributing to systems of injustice including war, the prison-industrial complex and police brutality, I have created my own voluntary tax system of distributing my wealth to the people who are least provided for by government and who are most impacted by exploitative, oppressive corporations. You can read about this in more depth here: My Lifetime Commitment to not Pay Federal Taxes
Questions on Food, Diet and Natural Health Care
What is your natural personal hygiene?
I answer this question in depth here: My Natural Personal Hygiene
Do you ever get sick?
Yes, I do occasionally get sick, however the sicknesses I have had have been minor.
I believe that getting sick on occasion – colds, flu, etc, – is a natural part of life, to be expected and is not a sign of bad health.
I do not currently suffer from any major health issues due in part to my dedication to preventative health care, my good fortune and my relatively young age.
What will you do if you get sick or injured?
I believe that getting sick on occasion and getting relatively minor injuries is a natural part of life, to be expected and thus to be planned for. Many of the sicknesses that others use pharmaceuticals or go to the doctor for, I instead trust millions of years of evolution and my own body. I treat with natural health care and herbal remedies as much of humanity has done for thousands of generations.
So what will I do if I get a major illness or am injured? The perspective on what is a major sickness or injury is subjective and up for interpretation as well. Humans have taken care of ourselves with major sicknesses and injuries long before modern health insurance or medical technology. There is still knowledge and practice of care that depends only on a community of humans and a relationship with Earth.
If I get majorly sick or injured and it is within my abilities, I will attempt to deal with it outside of pharmaceuticals and medical technology, however, I could also decide to go to a Western healthcare provider. For this, I could pay out-of-pocket if I have the money, receive a bill that I pay off, or borrow the money to pay for the visit/treatment.
There are certainly sicknesses or injuries where I would choose death over inequitable and disproportionate uses of resources.
I write about this more extensively at On Health Insurance, Age and Death and through a 45-minute video: On Money, Health Insurance, Age and Death (video)
Do you have health insurance?
My health insurance is not a monetary insurance or through contracts with health care providers. My health insurance is through preventative health care, relationships with plants and thousands of years of human evolution and knowledge of our own bodies.
I do not have health insurance or any insurance, in part, because of the belief that having insurance over something often results in a reckless usage of that something, and in part, because I have so substantially demonetized my life and my involvement with destructive systems (which I believe the Western health care industry is).
I write about this more extensively at On Health Insurance, Age and Death and through a 45-minute video: On Money, Health Insurance, Age and Death (video)
Are you vegan? Why aren’t you vegan?
I am not vegan. If I believed that being vegan was the most ethical and harmonious way to live with Earth, humanity and our plant and animal relatives, then I would be vegan. But I do not believe that. I also do not believe that it is inherently the healthiest diet for humans. I choose to eat a diet that is close to Earth, outside of globalization and industrialization, which includes catching fish, eating deer that are hit by cars, and sourcing meat, eggs and dairy from local, sustainable farmers.
I write about this extensively at My Thoughts on Veganism… and Why I’m Not Vegan
What is your diet like?
My diet varies depending on the land where I am based or the project that I am working on.
During my early activism, my diet was based largely on dumpster diving for food that was wasted as part of my activism against food waste.
I documented my transition into a healthier diet here: From Clueless Consumer to Real Food Dude and wrote The Planet Friendly Diet, which shares how to eat relatively healthy, ethically and sustainably.
In 2019, I spent a year growing and foraging 100% of my food. During that time, I grew 100 different foods in my garden and foraged 200 different foods from the land and water. My diet is documented in depth for that year here:
Growing and Foraging 100% of my Food – Documented in Photos
Growing and Foraging 100% of My Food – All 300 Foods I Ate
Growing and Foraging 100% of my Food – Daily Food Journal
Generally, my diet consists of whole, unprocessed foods. I source a substantial amount of my food foraging and from local farms and gardens. Since I left Orlando in November 2019, after growing and foraging 100% of my food, I have generally foraged much more than I grow. I forage almost everywhere I am and often every day. When purchasing food, I source from farmers’ markets and local farms where possible, but much of my food also comes from food-coops or health food stores.
My diet is often based on wild rice, fish, venison, fresh and dried mushrooms, ferments like sauerkraut, herbs and spices, herbal teas, mushroom teas and a variety of fruits and vegetables. I often eat other grains, primarily oats and wheat, but I will eat all grains. I use a lot of oil – olive oil, coconut oil and animal fats. I often eat eggs and cheese, generally when I’m not sourcing my own fish and venison.
When I am in Florida, I eat a lot of coconuts and semi-tropical and tropical fruits and vegetables along with much of the above.
I struggle the most with self-control in resisting junk foods. Although dark chocolate can be very beneficial, I often overindulge. I rarely buy junk food, but when I am around it, I often eat it.
When I am not in an immersive project and I am traveling, I do tend to eat at restaurants and I try to eat at restaurants that offer food similar to the diet I described above. This means being selective about the restaurants I choose.
As my diet varies substantially based on my environment and project, it is hard to answer this question concisely, but this answers it to a substantial degree.
Do you use pharmaceuticals?
Since my awakening in 2011, I have used pharmaceuticals under very rare circumstances, if at all. I can’t actually think of a time when I have used them and it’s possible that I have not. I would only use them under extreme circumstances and as a last option after researching extensively for natural alternatives and finding no option that I felt confident enough using. Preventative and natural health care will always come first. I write more about pharmaceuticals here: My Natural Personal Hygiene
You went 1,000 days without showering. Do you bathe? Do you smell?
Yes, I did go 1,000 days without a shower. That was one of my first viral stories: Lessons Learned from a Year Without Showering. Today, I still rarely take showers. For example, at the moment, I am staying in an off-grid cabin near Lake Superior in the late fall and early winter. There is ice on the small creeks and I am still swimming daily in the lake and rivers. I do bathe, probably 300+ days of the year and on many days I swim numerous times. Unlike many people I know, I do not take a shower after swimming because swimming is my “shower”. I practice a very natural personal hygiene, exfoliating with sand and scrubbing down in the water.
At my tiny house in Orlando, I bathed in rainwater.
I do smell sometimes and I have no problem with that. I think it is natural to smell and I am not afraid of my own body and my own existence. I have gotten feedback from hundreds of people I have hugged at my public events and the consensus is very clear. I do not have a strong body odor.
Some would be amazed by this, but simply put, the water Earth provides us can keep us clean.
Questions about dumpster diving?
See my Guide to Dumpster Diving for extensive information that will answer most or at least many questions.
Is it illegal to dumpster dive for food?
Generally it is not illegal to dumpster dive, although there are a small percentage of municipalities that have laws against dumpster diving. See the The Dumpster Diver’s Defense Fund for more information on the legality of dumpster diving.
Questions on Living Simply and Sustainably, Connected to Earth
Living barefoot questions: Do you ever wear shoes? Under what circumstances do you wear shoes? Do you ever get injured? Do people look at you weird?
I intend to write a barefoot FAQ that will answer all of these questions. For now I refer you to Why I Walk Barefoot and the Benefits of Being Barefoot and How to Go Barefoot More Often – Tips for Beginners
Yes, I do wear shoes sometimes.
I wear shoes when it is too cold to be barefoot, or the blacktop is too hot, if I don’t feel like stepping on something that I find too gross (such as in the alleys of New York City), in the desert where there are a lot of cacti, when there are sand spurs and to go into places that I don’t want to be told to leave (food co-ops, public libraries and public transportation).
I get minor cuts and small pieces of glass in my feet, which is never a big deal. I have had some bigger cuts, which I handled on my own or with the help of a friend.
People often disapprove of me and look at me with curiosity or concern. It keeps me humble.
What does it mean to live off the grid?
Generally the definition of living off the grid is to not be connected to the public utilities of water and electricity. “The grid” refers to the grid made in cities through water and power lines. Different people use the term differently and some use it to mean that they are completely disconnected from society. That is not my usage of the term “off the grid”.
When I live off the grid, it means that the space I am living in is not connected to a municipal water or electricity supply. My water generally comes from harvesting rainwater or harvesting from a nearby source of water such as a spring, creek, river or lake. In some off-the-grid spaces where I stay, there is running water from of a well.
When I live off the grid, it doesn’t mean that I am completely independent. At the shelter I stayed at in 2021 and 2023 in Asheville, North Carolina, I had no electricity in my home. I did, however, charge my devices at a community space that was a few minutes’ walk away.
Generally, when I am off the grid, I have no Wi-Fi. However, many people who live off the grid have Wi-Fi that is powered by solar panels or through their cellphones. Sometimes I stay at off-the-grid places that do have Wi-Fi.
How do you use the internet and your computer while living off the grid?
When I am living off the grid, I generally do not have any Wi-Fi access at my residence. Sometimes it doesn’t exist and sometimes I choose not to connect.
I love having my living situation as a refuge from the overstimulation and distraction of constant communication and access to infinite videos and information via the internet. When I do want to send emails, make calls, use social media, upload my writing, work with others remotely, use the internet, etc., I go to a place that has Wi-Fi. That is often community spaces, cafes, restaurants, libraries or a nearby home.
Sometimes I own a battery that allows me to charge my laptop numerous times, as well as other small devices. Other times I own no battery. I often do a lot of writing and work while offline and then upload it when I come online.
How do you live without a cell phone?
I got rid of my cellphone in 2014 and document that here: Why I Got Rid of My Cell Phone.
I do most of my remote communication via email and Google docs, and I have a Google voice number with which I can make and receive calls and send and receive texts. I also use Zoom for many meetings. All of these services do not require money.
I am still in substantial communication, and often more than is ideal for my own physical and mental well-being. Wi-Fi is available in many places. That said, without a cell phone, I spend probably at least half of my life completely unreachable accept by the people who have physical access to me. I have made a successful habit of spending weeks completely offline multiple times per year.
For more, read: My Addiction to Devices … And How I Remain Sane in the Digital World which is a guide to using the internet and cell phone in a balanced, healthy manner.
Questions about Living in my tiny house in Orlando, Florida:
See my Tiny House FAQ
What do you do about cold weather?
Generally, I do not live in places with extreme cold weather. I left Wisconsin in 2010 and since then have not spent an entire winter in a cold climate. I have generally lived in Florida and Southern California. In 2021, I moved to Asheville, North Carolina, and have spent substantially more time in colder weather. Although I do not have experience living off the grid in a cold climate during the winter, I know many people who do it just fine.
A wood stove in a well-insulated home is the single most important factor for living comfortably and sustainably in a cold climate, along with ample warm blankets and warm clothing. Humans have done it for many thousands of years and many still do today.
What do I do about mosquitoes and other biting insects?
I answer this question in depth here: What Do I Do About Mosquitoes, Ticks and other Biting Insects?
Aren’t you afraid of animals – bears, mountain lions, snakes, spiders?
Sometimes I have fear of bears, but rarely any other animals. For the most part, I am knowledgeable on where these animals live, their interactions with humans and their lifestyles. Most fear we have is completely unnecessary. The little bit of fear I do have rarely prevents me from doing what I want to do.
Much of my response on this article applies to this question as well: What Do I Do About Mosquitoes, Ticks and other Biting Insects?
Do you ever get lonely living alone?
I answer this question in depth here: Do I Ever Feel Lonely?
What do you think about living in an eco-village community?
I am absolutely an advocate for living in an eco-village or intentional community!
I have written Living in Community with more information on my views as well as resources for living in community.
Is it safe to compost your own poop?
It is absolutely safe to compost human poop. It has been done safely for much of the history of humanity. Composting poop is an intentional process that requires safety precautions and practices. It is not a mismanagement of poop, but an intentional management of it.
I answer this question in depth here: I Compost My Own Poop! – How to Make Humanure
Is it illegal to live off the grid?
In many cities, it is against municipal code to live off the grid. For many people that means being connected to the municipal electric and water but having their own systems that they use (generally solar for electricity and a well for water). In this way they are independently creating their energy and harvesting their water, but generally still do have to pay bills even when not using the municipal supplies. Outside of municipalities, it is often completely within code to live off the grid. At the moment, I am staying at an off-grid cabin that is permitted and completely legal. There are many, many situations in which it is completely legal to live off the grid and there are many people who manage to navigate codes to live safely and sustainably off grid.
Personally, I follow Earth Code first and foremost. In a society built on exploitation of Earth, many of the acts of simple and sustainable living that I practice can be against laws and codes. First and foremost, I have chosen to live by Earth Code before government, city or corporate code. Just because there is a law requiring something does not make it right. In fact,, many of our laws protect injustice and encourage exploitation. These are the laws that I will joyfully disobey.
For me, Earth Code supersedes all laws put into place that do not respect the rights of Earth.
Is it illegal to harvest rainwater?
In most locations, it is not illegal to harvest rainwater and in many locations it is actually encouraged by the government.
I answer this question in more depth here: Rainwater Harvesting Guide for Beginners
Where is your tiny house now?
My San Diego tiny house was auctioned off to build tiny homes for people experiencing homeless. A woman named Beth received the home. Here is an update on the tiny homes: Housing for Mothers without Homes in San Diego
My Orlando tiny house was donated to a sustainable living community, which is documented here: Where did my Orlando Tiny House Go?
What are the 111 or 44 possessions that you owned?
Here is a list of My 111 Possessions…
Here is a list of My 44 Possessions and a video that shares each item.
In 2023, I made an extensive video that shares My 111 Possessions for Living Simply and Sustainably, which was not all the possessions I owned at the time, but my selection if I were to own just 111 possessions.
What possessions do you currently own?
In Summer 2023, I made this video: Everything I Own Fits in this Tiny House – Tour of my Simple Life which represents what I own today.
What are the clothes that you wear?
I answer this question in depth here: My Journey To Natural Fiber Clothing
Why are you naked in some of your photos?
Although much of society has been taught to fear our own bodies, I do not live in this fear. Although much of society has been taught to live with great guilt and shame around our bodies, I do not live in guilt or shame about my body or yours. Although much of society has been taught to believe that our naked bodies are inherently sexual, I have not chosen to believe this.
We all have bodies. We all exist under our clothes. I embrace my body and I aim to help others embrace their own. Sometimes I am naked in some of my photos because it is just as natural for me to have clothes on as to not have clothes on. When I am naked, it is not sexual. It is not dangerous to anyone else. I am responsible for my body and it is the responsibility of everyone to liberate their minds from the indoctrination of religion and the dominator society over our very existence.
Questions on Applying My Philosophy to Your Life
What is the first step that you recommend to take in positive change?
The first step I recommend you take is one that feels very alive with you. What do you feel excited about? What is something you could do with joy rather than with sacrifice?
What could you do with relative ease?
I’ve shared my list of my first 100 changes here. Perhaps read through that and choose your first change.
What simple changes can I make in my life to be healthier?
Here are some of my top tips to live in a more healthy manner while also living more sustainably.
Ride a bike and walk, rather than driving in a car when possible.
Eat more whole, unprocessed food and start cooking meals at home.
Grow a little bit of your own food.
Learn a few plants that you can forage and incorporate them into your diet.
Drink herbal teas rather than sugary or caffeinated drinks.
Take a break from alcohol and put healing foods and drinks into your body instead.
Spend time volunteering in your community and meet your needs for socializing while being in service.
Practice Compassionate Communication.
How can I transition smoothly to an eco-conscious/sustainable lifestyle?
My recommendation is to take it one step at a time. Make a list of ten or twenty changes that you want to make and set goals for when you will make those changes. Perhaps make a goal of adopting one new positive change per week, or two positive changes per month. Figure out what you can truly manage to do and don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do more than is realistic. At the same time, dedicate yourself to the transition. It won’t happen without intentional work. Schedule time into your evenings or weekends. If you have a vacation coming up, perhaps plan it around adopting new changes. Do the work!
How can I start foraging safely?
Here is my Beginners Guide to Foraging!
What is your advice for families that want to live more sustainably?
See my Resource Guide for Families, Parenting and Alternative Living with Children.
I wish I could live/travel like you but I have a job and a family.
I hear that you really would like to live like me, but feel that it is not possible because of your family or your job. My purpose of sharing my life is not so that you can live just like me. Instead it is about self-reflection and self-questioning. In what ways are you not living in the integrity you’d like? In what ways can you make shifts to make your life more of what you want it to be? My recommendation is to take it one step at a time to live YOUR life the way you want it to be. Only YOU can take responsibility and create your own life.
There are countless people with jobs and/or families who are living closer to Earth and who are liberating themselves from the former ideas that no longer serve them. Perhaps spend time learning from their examples as well as mine.
I respect you and what you’re doing but I can’t live as extreme as you.
Thank you for sharing that you respect me and what I’m doing. That means a lot to me. I also hear that you can’t live as extreme as me, or don’t want to. That’s great! The purpose of my life is not for you to live just like me. The purpose of my life is to serve as an opportunity for you to ask questions about your own life and to find out how you truly want to be living. Although much of what I do is extreme compared to mainstream society, my entire strategy involves providing accessible solutions. I encourage you to focus on the solutions that work for you and to be YOU!
How do I get out of the corporate rat-race?
Here is My 11-Step Guide on How to Quit a Job that Doesn’t Serve You or the Earth
How can I get involved in volunteer work?
Within every community there is a need for service. There are people, animals and ecosystems everywhere – yes everywhere – that need nurturing and tending to. Before you start volunteering, I recommend asking yourself what type of volunteer work would feed your soul. Be transparent with yourself about what you are hoping to achieve through volunteering. And then find opportunities that align.
Find out what organizations exist within your community that need volunteers. You can do this by going to places where people might know, like local organizations, the library, health-food store bulletin board, schools and more.
You might not need to find an organization to volunteer with. You might just talk to your community and talk to your neighbors to find out what they need. Living in service can be as simple as helping someone tend to their garden, cooking healthy meals for elderly neighbors or child watching for activists who need some time to rest.
What nonprofits do you recommend I donate to?
Here are the Nonprofits I Recommend and Support
How can I be more sustainable?
Here are the resources I recommend to help you live more sustainably:
My transition to living more sustainably
My list of the first 100 changes I made and that you can make, too.
My House Guide to Sustainable, Simple and Healthy Living
How can I live off the grid?
Living off the grid is a dream for many of us. I encourage you to pursue this dream!
I always recommend trying things out before fully committing to them. Find out if you have anyone in your community who is living off the grid and ask them if you could come help out for a couple days while experiencing off-the-grid living. Find an organic farm that is off the grid through WWOOF – Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
Find an off-grid community that takes visitors. I share some resources for community here: Living in Community. You could also rent a space for a short term to try it out, whether through websites like Airbnb or by finding someone who has a space they are renting out temporarily or who needs home sitting.
While you are finding the space to live off the grid, you can be learning the skills needed to live off the grid. You can also be downsizing your unnecessary possessions and reducing your monetary needs. You could go to Earthskills gatherings to learn off-grid living skills and find community. A wonderful resource is Wild Abundance in Asheville, North Carolina. They offer classes both online and in person to learn the skills to live off the grid.
How can I live in community?
Here is my Living in Community Resource Guide to help you learn more about living in community and perhaps find a community to live in.
How can I reduce my waste / live near zero waste?
Here is my Guide on How to Live a Near-Zero Waste Lifestyle
Should I be vegan or vegetarian?
That is a choice that only you can make and I certainly support the choice to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet. I write about this extensively at My Thoughts on Veganism… and Why I’m Not Vegan
How can I get others to make a change?
Here are 15 Tips to be a Positive Influence on Others
What advice do you have for kids who are interested in saving the planet?
I have written two books that are resource guides to help children do just that!
Be the Change: Robin Greenfield’s Call to Kids―Making a Difference in a Messed-Up World
Zero Waste Kids – Hands-On Projects and Activities to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
It’s different being a woman. Is it possible to live your lifestyle as a woman?
There are certainly many challenges that women face, that I do not face as a man. Concern for safety is very valid in this male-dominated society.
One resource I recommend reading is Advantages and Disadvantages of Traveling Solo as a Woman which was written by 23 women travelers.
I have many female friends who are living a similar lifestyle to me. In fact, many of my closest friends who live this lifestyle are women. I learn a lot from them and they learn a lot from me. Social media is a great place to learn from them.
Wild Abundance has women’s rewilding and women’s carpentry classes and the organization was started by my Dear Friend Natalie Bogwalker. Firefly Gathering is a very powerful gathering that centers women.
How do you make your work accessible to less privileged people?
This is a very important and pertinent question.
Many people with less privilege have less access to time, money, education and resources to be able to live closer to Earth and to break free from the dominator society.
A lot of the work done by privileged people ignores this reality and they create resources and tools that just aren’t applicable to people living with less privilege.
It has been central to my development as a servant, to listen to and learn from people and communities with less privilege to make sure that the work that I am doing actually serves them. Some of the things I do to make my work accessible include:
- Offering most everything that I do at no cost
- Providing scholarships to events that I’m involved in that do cost money
- Providing my resources at a priority to people with less privilege
- Spending one-on-one time or small group time with people with less privilege offering my skills and knowledge on their terms, in their more comfortable space
- Highlighting people with less privilege who are doing this work, so that people with less privilege can see themselves and see that it is possible as well as continue to learn from them
- Supporting initiatives led by people who truly are or represent the less privileged and who are dedicated to being of service
Questions on Getting Involved / Meeting Me
Why don’t you respond personally to my email?
I would love to respond to every email and comment that I receive on social media. It would fill my heart to be of service in that way and to meet your need for connection and for support. I honestly mourn that I do not answer every message personally. At this stage, I technically could answer every message personally, but I would have to give up a substantial amount of my activism and my service and it would probably be a substantial sacrifice to my own well-being. I am doing the best that I can with the time and resources that I have to be of service and as much as I would love to, it is not within my capacity to respond to every message I receive.
Can you come to my town/country?
Perhaps! If you’d like me to visit your community in service, you can email my team here. I do travel a lot and much of where I go is because someone reached out to bring me there. I want to support everyone that I can in their mission of living in harmony and helping their community to do so as well. Generally for me to travel to you, I will need your support with transportation and lodging as my own resources are limited and I’ll also need to know that my time in your community will be impactful. I’m simply not able to go everywhere that I am desired, even if I never slept!
Can you come to my school/office to do a talk?
Perhaps! If you’d like me to come to your school or workplace to do a talk, you can email my team here. You can learn about my public speaking here. That page includes some resources to share with your community. I do give a lot of talks and I very much love to. I want to support everyone that I can in their mission of living in harmony and helping their classmates, students and colleagues and community to do so as well. Generally for me to travel to you, I will need your support with transportation and lodging as my own resources are limited and I’ll also need to know that my time in your community will be impactful. I generally use public speaking as a means to raise funds for my service to Earth and humanity but I do speak without an honorarium for many schools and community initiatives.
Where am I now?
I keep you up to date here: Where is Robin Greenfield Now?
What is your next big project to raise awareness?
Once I am ready to share my next project, I post it on social media and make a page on this website. Keep an eye on my social and on the new articles section of the website. Also, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter, where I always share my new projects.
Questions about my month of wearing all of my trash:
See the Trash Me FAQ
What are your thoughts on GMOs?
I answer this question in depth here: Why I Don’t Buy GMOs
Do you still drink alcohol?
I rarely drink alcohol and, if I do, it is a very small quantity of a beverage that a friend made such as mead (honey wine). Read Why I Quit Drinking Alcohol for more on this.
Do you ever slip and go back to your former lifestyle?
Every day is a struggle to live up to the level of integrity and harmony that I would like to. Although I am far from going back to my former lifestyle ever, there are certainly things that I do that are not in alignment with my life choices. Most commonly that has been eating food that is not healthy for me, buying packaged food, purchasing stuff from companies that I don’t support, entering into romantic relationships without the highest integrity, speaking in a manner that is not compassionate, among other things. I am very happy with the progress that I have made, but I have much more progress to make still.
Do you miss anything from your former lifestyle?
To a large degree, I don’t really miss anything from my former lifestyle. This is the case for a few reasons. First, I have replaced my former ways with what I want to be more. It has been less about sacrificing and much more about becoming who I truly want to be and living the life of my dreams. Secondly, I make exceptions and I don’t strive for perfection. I’d probably miss dark chocolate, but instead I enjoy it sometimes.
One of the greatest difficulties is my choice to not fly, or to rarely fly. I could be a lot more effective in my service and I could experience a lot more ease and comfort if I flew. Traveling across the country is a long journey in a car or train for multiple days and sometimes even costs more than flying.
Do you think you will save the planet?
No. This question was asked of me more frequently earlier in my activism when I was living in more of a delusion of grandeur. All the humans who I have the highest regard and respect for have only made so much change, and I don’t expect to make more change than they have. It’s very obvious to me that my impact will only go so far. I’ve started to focus more on first making sure that I am living in truth and integrity and second, what is within my means to be of service to life on Earth.
What has been the most effective form of communication for your message?
First, being a human being who lives in a deep state of truth and integrity. Going way outside of societal norms and provoking – shocking – people to think “you can do that?!” Living in a way that gets people to question their own lives, but with all of that, even while taking things to an extreme, having no belief in “right and wrong” or “good and bad”. This means communicating with gentleness and compassion and minimal judgment. And doing this in a way that reaches millions of people through entertainment first and then a blend of education and inspiration for change.
What are your simple comforts?
I find comfort in a truly healthy and tasty meal. In access to pure water straight from an artesian well or spring, In having time to myself in silence. In a quality night’s rest or an afternoon nap. In having access to a simple compost toilet whenever I need to poop and a forest to go pee in. In being at a friend’s home or restaurant and being able to compost knowing that the materials will definitely return to the soil. In having someone else prepare a meal for me. In a summer day with minimal biting insects and not too strong a heat. In a healing, loving romance. In a flowing friendship. In a path through the woods with no sharp objects on my bare feet. In a book that is hard to put down because I love it so much. In being dry during rainy times. In an avocado or banana that is perfectly ripe. In salt on my food or in the ocean air. In having everything in my life organized and tidied up. In knowing that my mom and siblings are happy. In having nothing on my schedule for the day, but the freedom to dedicate a full day to productive service. In finishing this writing and knowing that it will have been meaningful to someone who’s read it and that we’ll feel a connection even if we’ve never met.