Design in pratica.

The weight of consumerism, worn by activist Rob Greenfield
The perfomative social experiment of the US activist as a challenge to the consumer society.

How much waste does a single person in Italy produce in an entire year?

On average 502 kg, which corresponds to a total national production of 29.6 million tons, according to ISPRA data from 2021.The habit of producing a large quantity of waste every day without adequate limitation has undergone a process of increasingly evident normalization and affirmation over the last few decades, however, in correspondence, there has not been a respective attention to developing ways of disposing or regeneration of what is currently considered waste. The naturalization of this habit, together with other dishonest methods and practices, such as the general lowering of the quality and durability threshold of the products placed on the market, has opened ways to designs that are both in theory and in practice unsustainable, hardly or not virtuous at all.

Rob Greenfield →, an American environmental activist has decided to stage a challenge to the consumer society with a particular focus on this issue, the individual generation of waste and waste, through a performative social experiment, critical but at the same time playful and amusing, dressing for a whole month a costume made of garbage bags full of waste produced by himself, with the intention of feeling the weight of consumerism at every step. The goal of the trash man was to sensitize as many people as possible he met on his way, encouraging to boycott practices of large corporations, becoming a promoter and spokesperson for other lifestyles associated with a different way of being in the world, encouraging self-production from low or ethical production, minimizing material possessions, considering that a citizen of the United States generates an average of waste much higher than that of other countries in the world.

The mountains of waste ©
Rob Greenfield, the activist ©

In his daily life, Rob relies on the sustainability scheme of the Seven Rs (7R): Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle, Rot which invites you to make your own in various possible creative applications, choosing to experience firsthand a simple lifestyle, coherent with its values. Through his example he wishes to generate a radical change in society, starting from the generation of a greater reflective awareness, considering that real change requires perseverance. These choices can be associated with the creative re-signification of rejection or discard, together with a rediscovery of the sense of poverty as a form of virtue.

With the hope of being able to observe, narrate and draw inspiration from more and more exemplary realities of virtuous design practices in the world, ultimately, this example intend to demonstrate that human inventiveness, if channeled through the right channels, can generate a useful and positive transformation, a non-harmful or dangerous impact in the territories that goes towards a direction of true sustainability in practice.


This dossier refers to the topics dealt with in the seventh virtuous design practice “Extensive vision with a proper mindfulness.” and aims to lead us to observe what we have today, to understand what we can do without tomorrow through an objective and aware vision.

Articles covering the same topics

‣ Rapporto Rifiuti Urbani – ISPRA, edizione 2022

‣ L’attivista che indossa i suoi rifiuti per mostrare quanta spazzatura produciamo in un mese – la Repubblica, 19 maggio 2022


21 September 2023


 21 September 2023