My story

Hello, my name is Erin. I write, speak and blog about my pursuit to live a life with less plastic and rubbish.

This space is where I share plastic free living alternatives to shopping, cooking, makeup, fashion, cleaning and travel while trying to create no rubbish. The Rogue Ginger is full of helpful tips that are good for you and the earth.

Erin Rhoads zero waste blogger

Talking about rubbish and plastic was not something I ever imagined myself to be doing. Let's jump back a couple years, to see how this not so eco girl, got started on this journey...

How did this all start?

JUNE 2013

One wet dreary June afternoon, I was sick in bed with a brutal cold. I had run out of movies to watch. My sister called to see how I was feeling, then suggested a movie she had heard about that might interest me or at least kill some time. She had not seen it, but read an interesting review. It was my first ever eco documentary, called the Clean Bin Project. To give you a quick summary of the doco, it follows a couple that pledged to buy nothing new for one year, while trying also to produce no rubbish in that same year. The documentary looked at the unnecessary amount of rubbish we generate day to day.

After the credits rolled, I looked at my own life and was shocked by the mindless waste my day to day actions were creating. So I decided to make some changes. This led me to partaking in Plastic Free July a month later It was similar to Dry July, but instead of giving up alcohol, all I had to do was give up single use plastic. So I decided to take on the challenge to go plastic free for one month, blogging about it along the way. How hard could it be?

It was during this month long challenge, I learnt in more depth about the negative impact plastic can have on everything. Here is some of what I learned:

Wildlife / Eight million metric tons of our plastic waste enter the oceans from land each year. It migrates through our creeks, rivers, beaches and storm water run off, through different circumstances. Ocean currents take the plastic to gyres, creating large areas of concentrated plastic in our oceans. During the plastics movement, marine animals becoming tangled init pollution and are mistaking it for food. Albatross on the Midway Atoll are dying of starvation due to the heavy amount of plastic pollution found in traditional feeding areas. Here in Australia, vast quantities on turtles are dying due to the ingestion of plastic bags.

Environment / From extraction to production, the manufacturing of plastic has a heavy impact on the environment, polluting air, soil and ground water. It requires the use of fossil fuels, oil and gas, both of which are non renewable resources. The pollution from fossil fuels contributes to 19,000 deaths every day. Then there is the resources, waste and danger associated with shipping nurdles (plastic pellets before they become a single us plastic spoon) around the world. Once plastic is used and disposed of, it does not completely breakdown.

Unlike organic matter nothing plastic is returned to the soil for nourishment, food or life. It will sit around clogging up landfill or end up in our rivers, oceans, forests and deserts, releasing chemicals into the environment. Plastic is disturbing the natural environment everywhere.

Plastic can break apart, becoming microscopic particles known as micro plastics. They act as magnets for other harmful toxins like DDT. Scientists are seeing these micro plastics entering our food chain, being found in fish, honey, beer and salt.

Potentially harmful chemicals / Bisphenol A (BPA), Bisphenol F (BPF), Bisphenol S (BPS), Phthalates, Vinyl Chloride, Dioxin, Styrene; the list of the chemical compounds found in plastic that could cause reproductive and brain development, asthma, obesity, diabetes and cancer did not sit comfortably with me and I was left wondering; did I really need these chemicals in my life? Was the uncertainty of these chemicals worth the risk? The answer was no. I understood that some plastics have become necessary in our lives. For instance in medicine and transport. But much of the plastic I was using, exposed me to these potentially harmful chemicals, could be avoided.

People / The environment surrounding the factory is not the only living thing absorbing toxins. Factory workers and their families are under threat too. My role as a mindless consumer encouraged corporations creating the plastics to continue taking advantage of “uneducated” communities. My purchases were part of the chain that promoted endangering a persons health due to lax environmental laws and unfair working environments.

Recycling is a bandaid / I used to think that recycling would solve our environmental issues that greenies were always going on about. I was a lazy recycler, meaning many items that ended up in my recycling bin, were put in there under the guise that someone on the other end would figure out for me if it was truly recyclable. I quickly realised that recycling in the not the solution. While our recycling levels have increased, so has our consumption. How much we consume is the issue and recycling does nothing to curb it.

There is no away / Our rubbish that is put out on the street moves away from our lives, but does not go away. Because there is no away. It's merely transported to the outskirts of our cities, taking up valuable agricultural land, to sit around for eons, never truly breaking down. All the single use plastic, and frankly, everything else we toss into bins will be left around for the next generation to deal with.

They were just some of the issues I discovered. After Plastic Free July had ended, and armed with information on the disruptive nature of plastic and seeing improvements in my life, I decided to quit plastic for good

JUNE 2014

The first year was challenging and hard. There were times where I forgot my reusable bags or a plastic straw slipped through. But it was a year that I saw benefits, namely eating better food, reduced my exposure to weird chemicals, saving money, supporting my local community and feeling happier. I also became a passionate composter, got involved in environmental issues in my local community and generally started living with more intention. My rubbish had decreased to the point that I was throwing close to nothing away. I decided to track what rubbish I was creating, by collecting it in a dilemma jar. I soon discovered the zero waste movement and decided to apply its principals to my life, continuing the blog about my journey along the way.

Living zero waste is about making the active decision to divert 90 percent of your own rubbish from landfill. The remaining 10 percent accounts for items that cannot be reused or recycled. The amount of rubbish I created between 2014-2015 could fit into a jar, including legacy waste; essentially stuff I purchased pre-zero waste and came to the end of their life as I began zero waste living. Zero waste is also known as pre-cycling and circular living.

Click here to learn about what plastic-free and zero waste means, the talk and more.


What began as an experiment on reducing my plastic, has morphed into a life long commitment to lessen my impact while I live on this earth. I don’t believe the next generation should have to deal with my rubbish. It’s my responsibility.

Living plastic-free and zero waste is the life I want to lead and live. It does not consume my whole life and I have not run out into the bush cutting myself off from society and growing all my own food from scratch. I still live in a townhouse in the suburbs of Melbourne, go out and have fun. If you passed me on the street, there would be no way to tell that my rubbish of three years can fit into a jar. The only tangible difference between my old way of living compared to now, is the intention of my life; it's about kindness, simplicity and taking responsibility.

I continue to enjoy sharing my plastic free and zero waste life, here on the blog, and also writing for publications, on radio and TV and hosting workshops. I do this as a way to inspire and show that we can make changes in our life today that will create positive ripple effects to be felt for many generations. As you can see, my journey was not fast, it was a slow transition that worked for me. 
My motto: Do the best you can, with what you have got, where you are.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about my story. Enjoy exploring my world of plastic-free and zero waste living, Erin. 

P.S. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in contact, but do check the FAQ section, as I might have answered your question already. You can read my professional bio here and visit the events page for upcoming talks and workshops.

Click the link below to read a list of helpful tips that will help you start reducing rubbish and plastic in YOUR life. 

The above link will take you to a guide full of helpful resources. Topics like where to shop, how to shop, what is zero waste, how can I reduce my plastic, recipes... basically a detailed list of everything I have learnt over the years and deem to be helpful. It's all free, and you don't have to sign up to a newsletter for access. As I am based in Australia, this list is geared towards an Australian based audience. However, much of it can be adapted to your own location too.

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