Drip by Drip: The Sustainable Cyclist


Rob Greenflield has made it across the US in his cross country ride to promote sustainability…but he’s not done.  After a little time off in New York, he’s back on his bike and cycling to Vermont to complete his ride at the 1% for the Planet headquarters in Waitsfield.

But on the way there, he’s doing something insanely incredible once again.  He’s already went barefoot, gone with no seat, and is now cycling to Boston and living off water from drippy faucets only.  Yeah, that’s right.  During the ride, he’s only drinking water from leaking fire hydrants, hoses, kitchen faucets, or anything else he comes along.

Rob is very extreme in his sustainability practices and it’s not that he expects the rest of us to do what he’s doing.  But what he hopes is that people will at least do a few small things each day to avoid waste and live a little more on the sustainability side.

Off the Grid: Day 93; Drip by Drip day 5

By Rob Greenfield

Rob Greenfield Sustainability Cycling

At no point today did I know where my next drip, sip, or gulp of water was going to come from.  My tongue searched the desertous terrain around it hoping it would find water.  I knew I was controlling that… tongue and that it would find no moisture but it seemed to have a mind of its own, searching every corner of my mouth for a drop of water. As I rode along my eyes constantly scanned my surroundings for potable water.  I felt like a hawk soaring through the sky searching out prey only my eyes were scanning for half full water bottles on the side of the road, drips from spigots on the side of houses, and any sign of leaking water.

My hawk eyes brought me success many times throughout the day.  My first water came from a bowl sitting in the kitchen sink of my host, Chris.  Just in case he intended to use that water to wash the dish I left enough to get the job done.  When I hit the road at 11:00 I found my next water inside of two huge cucumbers.  I’ve learned on this trip just how hydrating fruits are.  Many times on this trip I have peed bright yellow from dehydration and then found my pee to be clear after eating a half dozen apples or oranges.  A cup of discarded ice that I found in a garbage supplied me with about 10 ounces of water around noon.  Just a bit later I found an unopened 17 ounce bottle of water to quench my thirst.  The day was moving along slowly and so were the miles.  More bad dreams last night prolonged the feelings of depression inside me, but today they were of much less intensity.

Mid day I stopped at a state park where I swam in a lake surrounded by forest for about an hour.  If I couldn’t hydrate my body from the inside I decided I would do it from the outside.  The cooling effects of the lake lessened my thirst and helped me to get through the afternoon.  The water refreshed my body and lifted my spirits.  Upon departing the park I spoke to one of the rangers and asked if she knew of any leaky faucets.  She said there were none around but she did give me the water from the bottom of her cooler that she was of course not going to drink.  This ice cold sixteen ounces of water provided me with great joy.  Shortly after leaving the park I found another thirty ounces in roadside water bottles.  At 4:15 I was feeling good and my mouth was moist.  My head did ache which I assumed was from a lack of sleep and a slight bit of dehydration.  At this point I had collected about three quarts of a gallon of water, which certainly was enough to survive.

I think some people are wondering what the point of this Drip by Drip campaign is.  I think some people even think it’s a little idiotic.  The purpose is to get people thinking about the resources we waste in this country and to do it in a creative way.  I’m not telling anyone to do this themselves nor am I expecting them to. I am only hoping to help others see our precious resources from a new light and in turn take action to preserve them for all to enjoy.  I believe that it is harder to appreciate what you have when you have too much of it or it is too easily available. Often when we have excess of something it looses its value in our mind.  When water flows from a tap with the turn of a knob it is no longer seen for the live giving value that it holds.  When light is created by the flick of a switch it is not valued such is the light given off by the rising sun after a long dark night. When heat is created by twisting a knob it is not savored like it would be if a fire was lit to warm trembling hands. When sweat is evaporated off a hot body by conveniently turning on an air conditioner it is not appreciated like a shady spot under an oak tree.  When electricity is so easy to use that you forget where it comes from gratitude is no longer felt like it is when you harness the energy of the sun from a solar panel when it is available.

I personally have chosen to deprive myself of these resources that we take for granted so that I can gain a deeper appreciation for them.  I have chosen to learn where these resources truly come from so that I can understand them and make conscious decisions about my usage.  By creating a deep appreciation for these resources I know I will do a better job of preserving them.  I also now have the ability to feel great joy from these simple things.  It doesn’t take much to make me happy because the simple things in life are what make me happy.  It’s absolutely vital for me to have happiness in my life and in great amounts.  I have been a happy guy for a very long time now and I only intend to become happier.  I’ll do that by gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of what surrounds me on this earth. I think everybody likes to be happy, even when they pretend they don’t and I believe that the things I have practiced could bring happiness to most any life.
The day wore on as I pedaled down the open blacktop road.  A bountiful green forest laid before me as far as the eyes could see and beyond that the big blue sky full of fluffy white clouds said to me, “Look at me.  I’m beautiful.”  The scenery and the fatigue caused tears to well up in my eyes but they did not fall onto my cheeks.  I was excited for tears to fall but they never did and I think it was my bodies desire to preserve the sacred water that it held inside.

I called it a day after 50 miles of riding and found a quiet remote beach to pass the rest of the evening.  I swam in the ocean and after drying off and eating a half loaf of bread sat on a bench overlooking the ocean and wrote about my day.  This was my first swim in the open Atlantic ocean since my arrival and it is truly wonderful to be here.  I have no water and haven’t had a drop for a few hours now.  Oh how wonderful a few ounces will be.  I will savor my next drink in the morning though.  It is dark now and I am having trouble seeing the screen through the cloud of mosquitoes so I’ll end on that note.  Hopefully I can find a spot on the beach where these blood hungry insects won’t seek me out.

Follow Rob’s adventures on his facebook page at http://facebook.com/RobJGreenfield or find out more at www.GreenfieldAdventures.org.

Photo by Brent Martin.

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    April 2024
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