Are you curious about what it’s like to cut plastic out of your daily life? Called to action by the excesses of plastic waste, Erin Rhoads started blogging as The Rogue Ginger to track her journey in cutting out plastic. We asked Rhoads about what inspired her to strive for an eco-friendly lifestyle, and she shared some of her tips to making it work!
Where are you from and how has that influenced your eco-friendly quest?
I live in Melbourne, Australia. My home is not far from the Maribyrnong River in the western suburbs. When I began to look at how much plastic I was using in my life I also started to see it everywhere, especially in the river. The Maribyrnong River eventually leads to the ocean where much of this plastic was traveling. I realized how our actions are so far removed from the connectedness of nature. Part of my journey has been to realign with nature and its circular model.
“If you passed me in the street you would not know about my different lifestyle.”
How would you describe your lifestyle?
If you passed me in the street you would not know about my different lifestyle. I just try to send no rubbish to landfill and not recycle too much. I follow a framework that focuses on Rethinking, Refusing, Reusing, Reducing, Repairing, Sharing, Composting and Recycling as the last resort. When I shop for food I aim to buy my food with no plastic packaging by choosing fresh food, shopping at bulk stores and taking my own cloth bags to collect bread or use a container to get my cheese. These are all approaches that were normal 100 years ago and are even still normal in parts of the world today. I try to avoid bringing new plastic into my life and if I buy something new I choose items with no plastic, secondhand or ethically and sustainably made by workers who are paid fair wages in suitable working conditions. I also choose to share and borrow items when I need them.
What do you do to balance convenience with excess waste?
I’ve learnt to reassess what is convenient for me and my life, not what I’ve been told by businesses. These days I feel I don’t need as much stuff for a convenient life and having less has made it more convenient. For instance I keep my pantry pretty minimum choosing not to overload it with too much choice so when I go to cook dinner I’m not overwhelmed. Same with my makeup and hair care, my clothes. Keeping it simple had helped eliminate much of the waste I need to avoid.
What do you think are the easiest steps to becoming more eco-friendly?
The easiest step is to start composting. On average our bins are made up of close to 50% food scraps which are wasted in landfill. They don’t break down, creating methane gas a green house gas. Instead these could be composted and used to grow food, providing nutrients for the soil. Reducing your single use plastic footprint is also another step. Investing in a reusable cloth bag, water bottle, refuse plastic straws, say no to takeaway coffee cups (they have a plastic lining) instead have your drink in a real cup at the cafe and take 10 minutes out of your busy day.
How would you describe your home? Are there any ways that your Rogue Ginger personality is definitely stamped on your place?
Yes, the Rogue Ginger personality is throughout the home. There are a lot of plants which add life to our home while bringing some nature indoors. I like surrounding myself with handmade wood or other natural furnishings. I recently indulged in an un-dyed 100% hemp duvet cover and cotton-hemp-blend sheets. The un-dyed fabrics mixed with the green foliage creates a calming influence and retreat from the outside world. Amongst the natural aspects are artworks and handmade souvenirs I’ve collected on travels from overseas or from local antique stores.
“I am quicker to remind people that the system is flawed and that we can only do our best.”
Which room at home is your favorite?
My lounge room, it gets the most light and looks out to our garden. It’s also where I play the most with my son. So lots of giggles are had in that space.
How has being a mother shaped your experience of blogging about living an eco-friendly lifestyle?
Becoming a mother has opened my eyes to the hurdles that can be encountered when wanting to live an eco friendly lifestyle and to also remember that our current linear system is not set up to make eco changes like a zero-waste lifestyle easy. I am quicker to remind people that the system is flawed and that we can only do our best. From a personal level I’ve taken it slowly and been kind on myself remembering I can only do the best I can, with what I’ve got, where I am.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? And what about The Builder..?
Interesting question! Gosh it would have to be someone with red hair. I do like Jessica Chastain for myself. As for the Builder, Chris Hemsworth would be a contender. Just don’t tell my husband that!
What’s the next project you’re working on?
I’m working on a couple of different projects at the moment; my book Waste Not will be released at the end of June. I’m also working with Plastic Free July this year and am aiming to launch some events with Zero Waste Victoria, a community group connecting individuals, businesses and schools with the tools and resources to reduce waste.
*This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Erin and her advice and tips for living sustainably, check out her blog The Rogue Ginger.
If you’re still curious about other ways to cut back on waste, check out our handy meal planner printable or check out this article about easy material swaps for those renovating and looking to build with sustainable materials. Sign up as a user to bookmark your favorite categories, or subscribe to our newsletter now to receive weekly updates straight to your inbox.