Erin Rhoads is the curious lady behind The Rogue Ginger, an online journal of sustainable living. We chat with the Melbourne based mama-on-a-mission to ask her how a humble travel blog evolved so triumphantly into an online odyssey seeking the fabled lands of Zero Waste!
Who are you, what do you do and why do you do what you do? My name is Erin Rhoads, I live in Melbourne with my husband and fourteen month old son. I am on a mission to engage with individuals to redefine what is waste and how we can create less of it.
Can you please tell us a little bit about The Rogue Ginger? When i’m not playing with my bubbly boy, you’ll find me writing for my website The Rogue Ginger, a blog on zero waste, plastic-free and sustainable living, hosting talks and workshops to help people rethink what is waste and reduce their reliance on plastic. It did not originally start as a blog about reducing plastic and rubbish, but rather a travel blog! My journey began when I found myself watching a documentary called the Clean Bin Project. Once the documentary had finished, I was shocked about the amount of plastic pollution affecting our oceans. I began to question my own indirect contribution to the issues and knew I wanted to reduce my plastic use, but did not know how or where to start. So I typed the question “how can I reduce my plastic,” in to a search engine and up popped Plastic Free July. I did the challenge for one month and saw many benefits beyond my reduction in plastic, that I decided to continue it. I became so passionate on the issue of reducing plastic, soon the blog became a place to keep track of the changes I had made to reduce my rubbish. Here I am, five years later about to publish my first book ‘Waste Not’ sharing everything i’ve learnt.
Can you share some details about your upcoming book Waste Not? The book is everything I have learnt in my journey to reducing waste. Waste Not is not just for those who label themselves zero waste; it’s for anyone and everyone who’d like to make simple changes where they can to reduce their individual impact and carbon footprint. It doesn’t matter whether you are at the beginning of your journey or further along, Waste Not is about joining a growing group of concerned citizens who want a new system, and remembering that our choices can help to shift and mould the world we want for future generations. Readers too can learn how to: • switch out the disposable plastics from your shopping trolley • make simple cleaning solutions free from harmful chemicals • find your favourite beauty products without all the packaging • give a baby shower present that won’t end up in the charity shop bag • plan your own zero-waste wedding (and what ‘zero waste’ even means!)
Are there any projects (professional or personal) that you are especially proud of? Working with Plastic Bag Free Victoria. This was a major turning point for me in understanding and witnessing what can happen when a group of concerned and passionate citizens can achieve when they come together. I had no experience in organising a petition or how to rally the masses, and felt daunted by the prospect. But we got there and now we are waiting for offical word as to when the Victorian government will reveal when it will enforce a wider ban.
What puts a spring in your step? Hugs from my son, sunshine on a winters day, food growing in the garden, picking up rubbish, finding a new outfit at a second hand store, when my husband brings me a donut in a reusbale container, plastic-free environment.
Night owl or early bird? Both! I can luckily survive on little sleep – which is handy now I’m a mum to a baby who appears to have inherit these traits from his mum.
What kinds of ideas and things are you working on at the moment? I am working on Victoria’s first Zero Waste Festival with a group of volunteers. It’s planned for early August. We can’t wait to bring together local businesses and groups to educate people on ways to fight the war on waste from a personal level.
What is a social conscience? Why do you have a social conscience? Why does it matter? A social conscience is when a collection of people come together to deal with a social issue that is causing harm and injustice or a threat to survival. I am part of the growing social consciences on waste because I don’t believe the next generation should have to deal with my rubbish or anyone else’s. It’s unfair. How we are consuming resources is negligent and full of ignorance. I’m not against consuming or buying stuff, but I think it’s time we question how we do this. Buying secondhand, upcycling, sharing and borrowing are all ways in which we can consume. I’m not just a consumer here to prop up the economy, i’m a citizen who wants clean water, clean air and a healthy environment for the next generation to inherit not only here but everywhere on this planet.
Can you give us some easy tips on how to live ethically/sustainably?
Before bringing anything into your life question whether you really truly need it. Look at the many different ways to get something you need. Buying second-hand, sharing, borrowing not only keeps waste low but also connects you with community. Reduce your single-use plastics by switching them for reusables. Repair and care for what you own. Start a compost or worm farm, save up food scraps for home made stocks, chutneys or even jam, don’t buy more food than you need.
Do you think that there is a stronger sense of accomplishment or success in conducting your business with an ethical and social conscience? I think the younger generation are beginning to expect it. Conducting a business with a ethical and social conscience is about choosing kindness, intention and responsibility. Who doesn’t want to support this type of business?
What is success? The definition of success is different for everyone. Having your own version of what is success allows you to stop measuring yourself against others and of feeling you have to keep up with the joneses.
Do you become disillusioned? And if so, how do you remedy that? Of course, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. I take a deep breath and remind myself that I can only do the best I can, with what I’ve got, where I am.
What other budding artists / entrepreneurs / creatives / initiatives inspire you? The folk who volunteer at our Repair Cafes keeping valuable skills alive. I think they are inspiring individuals.
Where can we find and follow you? You can find my blog at www.therogueginger.com Instagram @therogueginger Facebook.com/therogueginger