Just a little over two years ago I called my first news station and told them about my adventure, Off the Grid Across the USA. I wanted them to come report and help me spread the word. Sure enough, they showed up. Since then I have cycled across the United States (twice) on a bamboo bicycle, went a year without showering, and dove into over a thousand dumpsters across the United States, all to inspire positive social and environmental change. Dozens of news stations all over the country have helped me to inspire more people than I will ever know. Now I live off the grid in a fifty-square-foot tiny home in San Diego, and they’re covering that too!
It all started with a few ideas. If I can do it, so can you.
I met Liselotte through Facebook when she commented on one of my posts, saying she is “dumpster diving her way through her PhD.” I wanted to learn more, so I invited her to do a guest blog for my website. She is an intelligent and inspirational woman doing good for the Earth and the people around her. I just had to share her wonderful story, so here it is!
When I started my PhD in environmental psychology in October 2014, I had been dumpster diving for a while, but I wanted to take it to the next level. The goal was to save as much money as possible so that I would be able to buy a nice block of land after these three years, build a simple eco-home and live mostly self-sustainably after that.
It’s been 4 months since I moved into my tiny house and life is splendid! It has come along a bit slower than planned because of travels and other projects but today I felt it was finally time to share my life, off the grid, in the city! I am living a very low impact lifestyle- harvesting rainwater, eating local, harnessing the energy of the sun, composting, and riding my bamboo bike around town.
This is the least amount of stuff I’ve owned, quite possibly since the beginning of my owning of stuff.
For years and years I wanted stuff and I wanted a lot of it. I grew up thinking that a big house behind a big fence was what I wanted when I was older. I dreamed of having a really shiny car. I wanted boats and jet skis. I wanted to really impress people with my stuff.
Merren Tait, is simply incredible. She went a year without plastic and afterwards a few of my friends told me I should interview her, so I did. By the end of my interview with her I had already fallen in love with her mind. She is simply brilliant and sees the world in a way most people never will. It’s obvious to me how intelligent she is and how well thought out all of her actions are. That is greatly admirable to me. Dedication like she’s shown changes you forever, and I can certainly relate to her experience, especially from Off the Grid Across the USA. This interview with Merren is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to reduce their impact on the environment and live a life full of happiness, health, and freedom.
I’m absolutely no big shot in the entertainment world but I do have a few things in the making. This summer I took a pause halfway through my bicycle ride across the United States to film my first TV show. It was a grueling survival experience in the Louisiana swamps for Discovery Channels newest survival show, Tethered. I was dropped in waste deep swamp water by an airboat to await the arrival of a stranger who’d accompany me for the next 10 days of survival. A half an hour later, another airboat cruised up and a fancy looking guy named Kevin blundered towards me. I thought I had been set up; this guy was just too clumsy and clueless to really be my partner. But within two minutes of saying hello we were tethered together by a six-foot rope and sent on our way to fend for ourselves. We had just the clothes on our backs, a water purifier, machete, and a dozen matches. I can honestly say it was the most miserable experience of my free adult life but it made for an excellent experience.
You may have already heard a few appalling facts about food waste but just in case you haven’t, here are a few tidbits of information to catch you up on the issue.
-We throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food per year in the United States. That’s more than the budgets for the United States national parks, public libraries, federal prisons, veteran’s health care, the FBI, and the FDA combined.
-About 50 million of our 317 million Americans are food insecure yet we produce enough food to feed over 500 million Americans.
-To create just the amount of food that ends up in the landfills we waste enough water to meet the domestic water needs of every American citizen.
Even with these mind-blowing statistics you probably still need to see it to believe it. That is where I come in.
This weekend I arrived in New York City from my second bike ride across the United States living on food from grocery store dumpsters. On my first ride dumpster diving across the USA, about 70% of my diet came from dumpsters, totaling up to about 280 pounds of food over 4,700 miles of cycling.
I’m willing to bet that you’ve never thought about laundry detergent caps. I hadn’t either, until I found all of these in the basement of one suburban American home. I was pretty blown away, so I decided to get to the bottom of it. I found that the average American family uses 13 bottles of detergent per year. The pile that you see here has about 250 caps in it, so it took about 20 years for one average family to generate it.
Thinking a little deeper, I wondered how many caps are used in the United States each year. There are 115 million households in the United States, which means that’s nearly 1.5 billion caps! End to end, one year’s worth of America’s caps could line the equator nearly three times! That’s just the caps though. Imagine how much space all of the bottles would take up!