5 quick questions with the Rogue Ginger

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The Environmental Film Festival Australia and City of Stonnington will be partnering on World Environment Day - Tuesday June 5 - to host a screening of the award-winning documentary The Clean Bin Project.

After the film audiences will hear from a panel of local zero-waste experts, including the Rogue Ginger (aka Erin Rhoads), Eva Mackinley (founder of The Last Straw) and social entrepreneur Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald.

We sat down (virtually, at our computers) for five quick questions the Rogue Ginger (aka Erin Rhoads). 

Hi! Can you tell our readers a little bit about who you are and what you do?

My name is Erin Rhoads, I live in Melbourne with my husband and fourteen month old son. 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.

Can you remember a specific moment that really got you interested in sustainability?

It was the documentary The Clean Bin Project that prompted me to start reducing my plastic. I was shocked about the amount of plastic pollution affecting our oceans, neighbourhoods and health. Once the documentary had finished, 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,” into my internet browser 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 living as plastic-free as I could.

If a friend was starting to think about how they personally could lessen their impact on the planet and asked you for advice, what sorts of actions would you kick them off with? 

Food scraps are the biggest contributor to landfill, followed by single use plastics. We can change this by making simple swaps, like cooking with our food scraps, getting savvy when we do our weekly shops, composting or starting a worm farm, and supporting local farmers.
My top tips to cut back on single-use plastic are:

  • Invest in reusable shopping bags
  • Carry a water bottle with you and don't buy plastic bottle water
  • Say no to plastic cutlery and ask for metal (or take your own wrapped in a tea towel)
  • Request no plastic straw when ordering a drink
  • Buy your bread in a cloth bag from a local bakery. Do this once a week and you'll save 52 plastic bags each year. 

Why do you think storytelling / film has the ability to change people’s minds about environmental, social or political issues? 

Film can turn what is often complex issues such as plastic pollution and make it accessible. When we see everyday people or scenes on the screen that we can relate too, it makes the subject matter more personal. An image of children sorting through plastic waste or a turtle swimming through polluted waters connects us emotionally to a problem we know we can fix.

What’s your favourite environmental film, documentary or otherwise? 

Hmmm, I have way to many! The Clean Bin Project is definitely on my list of favourite films plus one of the main leads in the film is a fellow ginger. Bag It for its humour – this was the film that helped my husband understand why I reduced my plastic. I also enjoy A Plastic Ocean and Blue The Film. I'm looking forward to seeing Food Fighter too.

Thank you Erin!

To hear more from Erin and our other fantastic speakers, after a screening of The Clean Bin Project, book your tickets now.