Bike-Riding Do-Gooder Planting Flowers and Picking Up Trash One City at a Time

Rob Greenfield wants to inspire others to do good. Photo Courtesy of Rob Greenfield.
Rob Greenfield is trying to make a difference one wildflower at a time. The 27-year-old is cycling from Berkeley, California to San Diego this October and performing good deeds along the way as part of what he's dubbed the Do Good Tour. “I want to inspire people to start taking action and to do just one good thing a day,” Greenfield tells Yahoo Shine. Traveling by bike (no carbon emissions!), Greenfield is riding 60 to 70 miles daily, stopping to plant native wildflowers on the edge of parks and roadside ditches or pick up garbage.

Greenfield sold his car in early 2012 and has been using pedal power to get around ever since. Before embarking on his current 600-mile cycling trip, Greenfield bought a $1,000 bike specifically for the journey. But when the bike was stolen a mere two days before he was set to start his ride in Berkeley, he wasn't about to let a bad act stop him from doing good. “When I walked outside and my bike was gone, I knew this was an opportunity to make something good happen and overcome a challenge,” he says. Without missing a beat, Greenfield picked up a used bike on Craigslist for $480. So far, the bike is holding up just fine, except for a few blown tires and broken spokes.

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Greenfield credits his desire to do good with his passion for the planet. “I’ve traveled to six continents and seen how diverse and magnificent this Earth is, and I’ve just really grown to appreciate it. The more I see, the more I have a desire to protect it,” says Greenfield, who completed his first bike tour from California to Vermont to raise awareness for the planet this past spring. “I’ve made living an Earth-friendly and happy lifestyle my way of life and everywhere I go, I try to get people involved,” he says. “ I talk to a lot of strangers.”

Greenfield’s approachable attitude has helped him earn an ambassador role at Waitsfield, Vermont-based environmental nonprofit 1% for the Planet. “I’m really impressed by how Rob can approach just about anyone and connect with them,” 1% for the Planet marketing manager Brodie O’Brien tells Yahoo Shine. “Our ambassadors are people who care about the planet and give back with their everyday actions. Rob really embodies that for us.”

Greg Pepping, executive director for Santa Cruz-based nonprofit Coastal Watershed Council, met Rob last Wednesday when he rode into town. Introduced by a mutual friend, the pair took an evening sail on Pepping’s boat. “Rob’s feet were sandy, so I asked him to wash them off,” Pepping tells Yahoo Shine. “Rather than use the hose I offered, he asked if he could wash them in the water that surrounded the boat instead.” Pepping said he didn’t think much about the exchange at the time, but when he thought about it later he realized that Greenfield had made a conscious choice to save water by washing his feet in the ocean. “He’s successful in getting people to rethink when we should be using natural resources and when we shouldn’t,” says Pepping, who says he’ll now be washing his feet in the ocean, too. To his credit, Greenfield is taking water conservation to a new level by bathing only in natural bodies of water. “I haven’t taken a shower in six months,” says Greenfield, who wrote about the experience on his Facebook page.

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Greenfield is no stranger to being resourceful: Raised by a single mom in Ashland, Wisconsin, a small town on Lake Superior, along with his three siblings, he says he grew up poor but happy. “I’ve learned to live with very little money,” says Greenfield, who estimates he spends less than $20 daily, mostly on whole, healthy foods. He’s also a big fan of the sharing economy. He frequently uses couchsurfing.org and warmshowers.org to keep his living expenses on the road to a minimum. Greenfield is able to offset some of his travel costs with revenue from his small business. His marketing company, the Greenfield Group, focuses on companies and nonprofits that have an environmental focus.


Greenfield’s current Do Good Tour ends in San Diego on Oct. 30, but he doesn’t intend to stop riding. He's already planning a second tour from Los Angeles to New York next spring. Says Greenfield, “It’s all about making people smile and inspiring people to live a happier and healthier lifestyle, and I know that will happen by leading by example.”

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