In My 27th Year I…
This is a story of my 27th year on earth. Everything here took place between August 28th, 2013 and August 27th, 2014 and are in chronological order. I must say I’m a little blown away by what I managed to accomplish in just one year. The cool thing is that I’m no more special than anybody else. I’m no more capable than anyone else. Not that long ago I was a binge drinking college student spending many of my nights around the keg and my days at the library flirting with the girls. So if I can follow my truest of dreams and desires so can you. For me it was simply a matter of choice and then getting off my butt and doing it.
Here’s the happenings of my 27th year… (You can click on each photo to see more of that part of the story).
Just before turning 27 I returned from a 4,700 mile bike ride across the United States and I brought my sister back to San Diego with me. As children we never would have thought in our wildest dreams that we’d live together as adults, but she has become one of my best friends over the last year.
After just a few months back in San Diego I parted ways with my last business shirt and slacks. I decided I didn’t need to impress people based on my clothing anymore and that people would respect me for who I am not what I own.
Feeling the need for another lead by example adventure I hopped on my bike again for The Do Good Tour to inspire Americans to live in a manner that is beneficial for earth, community, and self. I cycled from San Francisco to San Diego planting wildflowers, picking up trash, volunteering at non-profits, and doing whatever ‘good deeds’ I could get myself into.
Also on the tour I was the The Man in the Money Suit and hosted gatherings to #GetMoneyOut of politics with the help of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of The Stamp Stampede. Back home I worked to get money out of politics as well.
And after that I made it into Wikipedia!
In November I launched my Change the World adventure series. I ran a contest and chose a Facebook stranger to go to Mexico with me to teach our viewers how to live more sustainably at home and inspire people to rethink the way they interact with the world.
A little while after I got back from Mexico I attempted a Marathon. In early November I had told myself that I’d run my first marathon by the end of the month. My longest run in 2013 was 3.5 miles, my longest ever 13.1 miles in 2008, and I had run no more than 50-100 miles total in 2013. Well, I didn’t quite make the 26 miles but I was happy with the 22 I did.
In December I pulled off my first activism campaign that hit media around the world. In 21 Gourmet Dumpster Meals I lived for a week solely on food from supermarket dumpsters and turned that discarded food I found into into healthy, gourmet meals. All to raise awareness about the $165 billion worth of food we throw out each year and inspire individuals to be a part of the solution.
While I was in downtown San Diego feeding people in need, a homeless guy told me I should live on the streets to see what it’s like. I took him up on the offer, and once I was done with 21 Gourmet Dumpster Meals I became The Smiling Bum. I spent Christmas through New Years on the streets of San Diego with no money to see life from a new perspective. I gained a deeper appreciation for what I have and learned to stop judging books by their covers. The time I spent down there helped me to become a more compassionate, understanding, and loving human being.
Throughout the year I continued to simplify my personal life into the humblest of forms in matters such as home, food, transportation, energy, and waste. In doing so I reduced my negative impacts on our environment and increased my positive influence on the world around me. I turned my 6’x6′ closet into my bedroom and have really enjoyed my new simple room.
In January I flew one way to Panama with just the clothes on my back and passport (no money, camera, phone) to teach people how to share and be resourceful. It took 38 days to travel the 4,000 miles and 7 countries back to my home depending on the sharing economy, general resourcefulness, and a combination of social media and true human interaction. It was a huge task but I’ve never appreciated the simple life more.
All the while I was forgoing showers for an entire year to inspire people to conserve water. I wrote about my experience in The Huffington Post and the story was picked up worldwide exposing millions of people to water conservation. I heard from people around the world that they would never look at water the same.
Once spring rolled around I cycled across the United States again on The Goodfluence Tour. I spread good, city by city throughout the United States creating ripples of positive action that spread far and wide. On any given day this summer you could have found me riding my bicycle, planting wildflowers, helping people in need, starting gardens, smiling, being nice, and inspiring people of all ages to live happier and healthier.
Each day I continued to decrease my dependence on money. I canceled my last credit card, payed my last debt, and simplified my life down to just one bill, which is my $60 per month cell phone bill. I started to carry only cash and often carried none at all. I left on the Goodfluence Tour with $2,000 in my bag, but in Wisconsin I donated the last $421 I had to Food Shift and traveled moneyless.
I also launched the Freestyle Gardening campaign with a mission to make food simple, free, and growing everywhere – in the cities and the countryside, at our homes and in our schools, in vacant lots and on open rooftops, down the streets and up the walls. My friend Michael and I funded and started gardens around the country and planted seeds all over the place.
Later on in the tour, I put all of my energy into reducing food waste in the United States and launched the #WastefulUSA campaign. In Wisconsin I decided I would bike the last 1,500 miles to New York eating nothing but food from dumpsters. But I wasn’t eating from dumpsters just to feed myself but to demonstrate just how much perfectly good food is being thrown away, all while 1 in 7 Americans is food insecure. The Media has picked up the story like crazy, and on my 28th birthday I had stories lined up with 2 newspapers and a news station.
I hosted Food Waste Fiascos to get others involved and to start a citizen patrol. I called for people who care about the issue to go to dumpsters with their smart phone and take a picture or video of wasted food and then upload the media and tweet, Facebook, or gram it at the wasteful company with #WastefulUSA. This campaign is stretching past my 28th birthday and is picking up momentum across the United States.
My 27th year was a great year full of health, and happiness. I have found that by living simply I can live freely and be a positive impact on our society. I am more inspired than ever to lead our country into a more sustainable way of being for the benefit of all humans and creatures.
You can count on me to continue in this manner and to push even my beliefs of what is possible.