Off the Grid Across America

Pedaling Coast to Coast for a Sustainable Nation


Cycling 4,700 miles across the USA, that’s the easy partSo what’s the hard part? How about doing it off the grid?  That means:​

  • Using electricity generated by solar panels.
  • Creating near zero trash and carrying any created for the entire journey​.
  • Using water directly from natural sources (lakes,rivers, wells, and rain) or water that is going to waste.
  • Eating locally produced, organic, and unpackaged foods or food that is going to waste.
  • Using human power and avoiding fossil fuels completely.
  • Shopping at businesses that are committed to creating a healthy planet.

Over 104 days of cycling Rob managed to use just 160 gallons of water, create a mere 2 pounds of trash, plug into 5 outlets, not turn on a light switch and eat 284 pounds of food from dumpsters!


Off the Grid Rules of the Road:​

1. Transportation

Rob aimed to cross the country with the usage of zero fossil fuels.  That meant not getting into a car, bus, or any other vehicle that uses fuel even on his rest days in the cities.  He managed to do just that, save a one mile ferry ride into Manhattan.  His share of the fuel was about .25 gallons.

2. Electricity

Rob aimed to create and use his own electricity generated by solar panels.  He equipped his bike trailer with Goal Zero solar panels and used the PowerPot to charge electronics from the heat of his campfires.  The electricity he generated was used to power his laptop, cellphone, bike lights, and headlamp.  He managed to  not turn on a single light switch, turn anything on in a house, take a single hot shower, use a stove, or use any electronic device that was not powered by electricity he created.

Electricity that he used indirectly included walking through automatic doors, accidentally triggering automatic lights, buying food when cash registers were  used, and getting money at the bank.   Wifi was another small electricity draw but again his laptop was powered by solar. Even automatic doors and light switches were avoided.  He did plug into five outlets during the journey when he ran out of solar energy but wanted to continue to spread the message through social media.

3. Near Zero waste

Rob is aimed to create almost no garbage as he crosses America.  Any waste that was created was recycled, up cycled, or composted.  Anything that could not be repurposed via one of these manners was carried until he reached Vermont.  He weighed and kept track of the garbage that he created.
All food waste was composted as was most human waste.  He created just two pounds of trash in 104 days while the average American creates 4.5 pounds per day

4. Food

Rob’s plan was to eat only locally sourced, organic, natural, and minimally or unpackaged foods.  But when he couldn’t find that, which was often, he ate from dumpster instead.  For this trip local was considered food from within the state he was in or within 250 miles.  Food that he purchased mostly come from local farmers markets, farms, and eco-conscious grocery stores but 70% of his diet came from supermarket dumpsters.   The idea behind that was to have the smallest environmental impact possible from food consumption.  Eating food that would have gone to waste has a positive carbon footprint because it is being diverted from the landfill and it eliminates the need for virgin resources.

When he needed to cook he made a fire with wood found in the area.

5. Water

Rob’s water came from natural sources like rivers, lakes, and rain as well as from wells.  He purified his water using the Katadyn Pocket filter.  Rob did not turn on a faucet, buy a bottle of water, take a shower, use a flush toilet, or wash clothes in a washing machine but he usually remained very clean and presentable and smelled good. When water was not available directly from natural sources he found wasted water in water bottles on the road side, leaky fire hydrants and faucets, and from broken sprinklers. He bathed and washed his clothes in lakes and rivers.

6. Consumption

Rob’s goal was to shop at businesses that are committed to creating a healthy planet and practice corporate social responsibility.  He prepared for the trip and thus did not have to purchase much besides food but when he did he purchased sustainably produced products from sustainable businesses.  Rather than purchase new he also aimed to purchase used items or repurpose items from the garbage.  He did not carry a credit or debit card so payed in cash for everything he did purchase.

Additional Personal Challenges:

Positive Impact 

Rob aimed to leave each state better then it was when he entered it by inspiring people to live in harmony with the earth, their community, and themselves.  Hee  planted native wild flowers about every other day as he was riding along and hosted some bike riding and seed planting events.

Chemical Free

Rob lived 100% alcohol and drug free for the entire summer.  Although he does enjoy beer and wine in moderation in his normal life, he did not have a drop for the entire summer to promote healthy and clean living.

He avoided  all chemicals as well and did not use any body care products such as shampoo, deodorant, colognes, soaps, and toothpastes that have synthetic chemicals and petroleum based ingredients in them.  He used biodegradable organic soap from Dr. Bronner’s to keep himself squeaky clean.

Positive mindset

Rob aimed to not swear for the entire  journey.  Every time he swore he did 10 pushups and donated $1o to Below the Surface, a non-profit he works with.  He managed to swear just nine times, or about every other state he passed through.  He also aimed to have a positive state of mind as much as possible and not complain.


The Off the Grid 1% Initiative​:

Funds were raised for 8 environmental non-profits that are making the earth a better place to live.  The non-profits are all 1% for the Planet recipients and focus on different aspects of sustainability including food, water, waste, transportation, and energy.  Read More HERE

Media Stories:

 Rob Greenfield GuardianRob Greenfield Grind TV

Connecticut Post     Rob Greenfield Scouting Magazine




















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