Why Everything I Own Fits In This Backpack

published on July 2, 2020

I'm Rob Greenfield and this backpack is

everything I own

it's about 50 possessions besides being

a person who just generally tries to

live simply

I'm also an environmental activist and

an adventurer trying to do things that

really catch people's attention and get

them to think about our lives does more

stuff make us happier so what are the

possessions that I own first

the clothes on my back one t-shirt and a

pair of shorts along with this t-shirt I

have three more shirts two t-shirts one

long-sleeve all green I have a wool

sweater and then another smaller sweater

long sleeve one pair of pants another

pair of shorts two pairs of boxers and

one pair of socks and then I have one

pair of sandals no shoes I grew up in a

very small town in northern Wisconsin

and I was raised by my single mom along

with my three siblings and my mom made

only around $15,000 a year I had all of

my basic needs met and I had a good

childhood but I always felt like I

didn't have as much as other people

almost none of my friends came over to

my house because I was too embarrassed I

didn't want them to see that I was poor

so I grew up basically hiding my true

self and that created this desire to fit

in to be normal and what I saw as normal

was having a lot of nice stuff I have a

handkerchief with this backpack a

daypack as well so I don't always have

to carry this stuff with me I have a

pillow since I travel quite a bit in my

early 20s I made a goal I wanted to be a

millionaire by the time I was 30 years

old during my summers I was working

between 80 and 90 hours a week making as

much money as I could and then during

the school years I was party generally

three nights a week and my life was very

focused on RTing on pursuing women and

it was largely about an image it was

about pursuing what I saw as the

American dream I became pretty focused

on material possession

and on financial wealth I had two cars I

had a boat and I had a large closet of

clothes and I was definitely creating my

self-worth based on the things that I

had as far as personal care items and

hygiene the things that I have are some

biodegradable soap toothpaste a

toothbrush some essential oil

moisturizer for the body scissors

fingernail clippers dental floss

earplugs and for cutting my hair and my

beard a hand powered razor shaves by

hand now a lot of people see me today

where everything that I own fits into my

backpack and I tell them about my past

and they think there must have been some

sort of major moment of enlightenment

but actually there was nothing like that

what happened was I simply started to

watch a lot of documentaries and read a

lot of books and I started to realize

that almost every single action that I

was taking was destroying the very world

that I loved the food that I was eating

the car that I was driving so I decided

that I wanted to change my life

continuing on I have my money 637 three

thousand seven hundred eighty dollars

this is all of my money no bank account

no credit card no debit card no life

savings or life insurance or insurance

of any sorts nothing owed to me and I

don't owe to anybody else if I was

robbed I could lose everything for a lot

of people that would be scary but for me

it's the ultimate freedom I set out to

start downsizing my life to start being

happy with what I had rather than always

feeling like I needed more first just

went through my possessions and I would

look at them and I'd ask myself do I use

this do I get purpose from this and I

would get rid of the things I wasn't

using and that weren't adding value to

my life I went from a three-bedroom

apartment to eventually living from one

of the rooms into the 6 foot by 6 foot

closet and from there I simplified from

having my apartment to a tiny house

which was a 50 square foot tiny house


and I simplified to having dist:111

possessions which I then traveled with

for about two years after that I

actually lived in a hundred square foot

tiny house in Orlando while I grew in

for John percent of my food and then I

went back to traveling and got my life

down to just fifty possessions so it's

been a long process in simplifying I

spent hundreds of hours decreasing the

amount of stuff that I had and changing

my mindset to realizing that I didn't

need those things for identification I

have a passport and I have a birth

certificate technology-wise I have my

laptop two chargers right now one

because I'm here in Europe one for when

I get back to the United States my

headphones and then this is actually a

possession that I don't own I'm actually

borrowing this right now it's a little

microphone I think I only have one life

I'm not going to work away my whole life

to have some freedom at the end of it

I'm gonna live a good life from my

entire life living simply allows me to

do that and it's about living more

sustainably the less that I need the

more I'm able to live in the present


and the more that I'm able to do the

things that really matter not having a

cell phone for example means that when I

am with my friends I'm actually with my

friends rather than having the

distraction of texts coming in or going

to the inbox messages of social media I

have loose leaf tea and then a tea

strainer a water bottle a pot for

cooking as well as a bowl and a to-go

container and then a spoon I have one

book and I always just swap them out

with a new book bookmark which is one of

Gandhi which reminds me to keep life

simple and lastly my notebook and a pen

today I own about 47 possessions but

that does change from day to day that

number is not the most important part of

it it's a goal it's an exercise of

keeping my life really simple I believe

that we need to act now in order to have

a chance for a sustainable future what

we're currently doing isn't working it's

not working overall

the majority of humanity and the other

species that we share this earth with

this is drastic but I believe that we

need drastic measures small little

incremental changes are not enough when

you look at the state of the world today

you cannot have infinite growth on a

finite planet this is about saying no to

finding my purpose and my health and my

happiness in material possessions this

is about me saying no we don't need to

destroy the very earth that we live on

in order to have a quality society and

happy of the human beings and then the

very last thing that I always forget is

on this computer this is a bumper

sticker and yes this counts as a

possession as well it says we must be

the change that we wish to see in the

world and that is my philosophy


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