What a waste: US campaigner wears his trash for a month


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Greenfield walking around Beverly Hills on May 16 wearing a suit filled with all the trash he generated living and consuming like a typical American for one month to show just how much trash we unthinkingly throw away. Photos: Robyn Beck/AFP

We all know someone with a rubbish fashion sense, but Rob Greenfield was proud to be wearing garbage – it's all part of a plan to show just how much trash we unthinkingly throw away every month.

The campaigner wandered the streets of Los Angeles, California, the United States and the surrounding cities in a specially designed suit that held all the junk he had produced over 30 days.

"For most of us, trash is out of sight, out of mind," he told AFP on the swanky shopping streets of Beverly Hills.

"We throw it in the garbage can and it goes away and we never think about it again. I wanted to create a visual that helps people to really see how much our trash adds up."Greenfield talking to tourists while walking around Beverly Hills. The sight of a man wearing garbage as he wanders through upmarket parts of one of America's most avowedly consumerist cities raises some eyebrows, but, he says, most people are interested in learning more.Greenfield talking to tourists while walking around Beverly Hills. The sight of a man wearing garbage as he wanders through upmarket parts of one of America's most avowedly consumerist cities raises some eyebrows, but, he says, most people are interested in learning more.

On May 16, with just a few days left to go in his 30-day challenge (which ended May 19), Greenfield was wearing around 62 pounds (28kg) of rubbish generated from the drinks, snacks and meals he had consumed.

All of it was packed in his clear plastic suit, with specially constructed pockets on the arms, legs and back. The legs were already bulging with cans that clattered and restricted his ability to walk, adding to the overall impression of a robot made of junk.

"It was about day 12 that I started to really feel the burden of consumerism," he said, noting that the average person in the US creates around five pounds (2.3kg) of waste per day.Greenfield decided to wear a suit filled with every piece of trash he has generated living and consuming like a typical American for one month to raise awareness about how much garbage just one person generates.Greenfield decided to wear a suit filled with every piece of trash he has generated living and consuming like a typical American for one month to raise awareness about how much garbage just one person generates.

"I really started to feel the weight and see the visual and just say 'wow, it's astounding how much our trash really adds up'."

Greenfield, who prides himself on living a minimalist life with only a handful of possessions, no bank account and no driving license, is no stranger to stunts aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues.

In 2019, he fed himself for a whole year with food he grew and harvested himself. But for the purpose of the trash suit, he decided to put aside the asceticism and consumed like the average American for 30 days.

The sight of a man wearing garbage as he wandered through upmarket parts of one of America's most avowedly consumerist cities raised some eyebrows, but, he said, most people were interested in learning more.

"There are some people who think I'm someone who's experiencing homelessness or that I have a mental health issue, but for the most part, people have just been very positive.

"People can understand this message and it helps me to really reach people from all walks of life." – AFP Relaxnews

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