In 2011 a personal revolution started in my mind. Many people who’ve under gone serious personal transformation speak of a moment of clarity or a drastic event that woke them up, I have personally gone through a serious transformation from Drunk Dude to Dude Making a Difference however I had no moment of clarity and no specific event that woke me up. Rather my shift came from an accrual of knowledge that is available to us. Some of that came from moving to San Diego in January of 2011 and surrounding myself with open-minded people. Some of it came naturally by finding better things to do with my time then drink alcohol and smoke weed. But I give the most credit to the information I gained through films, books, and Internet articles.
Not that long ago, my main priorities included binge drinking every weekend, looking good, and macking on pretty much every good looking girl I saw. I also wanted to be rich and to own lots of really impressive things. I was pretty tuned into that life and didn’t really think too much about how my actions affected the environment, people around the world, and the animals that we share the earth with. I was pretty selfish and if I did think about my actions I certainly didn’t do much about it. I did recycle, shut off the lights and water, and eat healthier than the average person I knew and I thought that was doing pretty good. But the list of negative environmental impacts was far greater than my positive impacts (which was nearly nonexistent). I owned two cars, shopped at Walmart for my food and my cheap crap, drank the cheapest beer I could find, took home my share of plastic bags, wasted plenty of water, ate too much meat, needed the newest gadgets always, and the list could go on and on. Not that any of these things are inherently bad but they definitely were not deeply serving myself or the earth.
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.
As I write this I am traveling the USA without a penny in my pocket. I left my home in San Diego on June 2nd with $2,000 cash and on August 12th I took a leap of faith in humanity and gave the last $421 I had with me to a non-profit. I made the goal that day of finishing my ride to New York City moneyless just to prove to myself and others that it is possible. Today I arrived in New York City on my bicycle, still without a penny in my pocket. People have tried to give me money but I have easily refused it.
This experience is about much more than just not spending money. It’s about showing that you and I can be contributing members to society whether we have money or not. It’s about showing that there are much more rewarding ways to live than just throwing money at every situation. It’s about living a life that is truly beneficial to the earth, my community, and myself. It’s about being more involved in our communities and treating each other with respect. And it’s also about teaching you how to live with less money so that you can follow your dreams and live independently of corrupted systems that don’t serve your best interests.