One thing I think is so valuable about the internet is the ability to learn from other people in a way you couldn’t without the internet. Case in point, Erin at The Rogue Ginger, lives in Australia and is sharing her zero waste story with us in this post.
If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I love playing 20 questions and focusing on different topics, such as minimalism and homesteading. In this round of 20 questions, we are focusing on zero waste.
Don’t let the term fool you, because anyone can strive for a zero waste lifestyle, and Erin brings a lot to the discussion that I think will help us all. Let’s play 20 Questions Zero Waste Style with Erin at The Rogue Ginger!
1. Please introduce yourself & your blog.
2. How did you start your zero waste journey? How long ago was that?
My blog [The Rogue Ginger] began in January 2013 with the intention to document my new life in Melbourne after I recently moved to the city.
Six months later I watched my first eco documentary The Clean Bin Project. For those who haven’t seen it, the documentary follows a couple from Vancouver as they battle it out to see who can produce the least amount of rubbish over one year. The movie had a profound impact on me.
Soon after I couldn’t stop seeing plastic everywhere in my life and decided I needed to reduce too. I signed up for my first Plastic Free July documenting it along the way, and haven’t stopped!
3. Overall, how has your life changed since committing to a zero waste lifestyle?
Going zero-waste was not only about changing habits, my mindset shifted too. It taught me to slow down and consider what kind of world I was investing my time, energy, skills, learning and money into.
4. What is your favorite thing about the zero waste lifestyle?
My favourite thing about the zero-waste lifestyle is learning new skills that help free me from the hyper consumer system we are told we need to be happy. I feel like I’ve jumped off the society treadmill and feel freer and happier because of it.
5. What is your least favorite thing about the zero waste lifestyle?
Learning a new skill! I have to remember to slow down and remember new skills take time to master.
6. What challenges have you faced in your zero waste journey?
The biggest challenge was hearing from every other person that we couldn’t continue living zero-waste when we had our first child. The negativity was not helpful.
7. What has been the hardest thing to let go of and did you replace it with a zero waste option or give it up altogether?
At the beginning, the hardest thing was junk food. When I started going zero-waste there were fewer options and I really had to go cold-turkey with some of my favourite snacks. But almost eight years on and I can easily say I don’t miss them.
These days I think greenwashing (using marketing to trick people into buying something eco friendly when it’s not) has become harder to figure out.
8. What are some of your favorite ways to avoid trash?
I like being prepared with a reusable water bottle, reusable container, and cutlery wrap. They fit easily into my handbag or backpack.
At home planning meals, writing a shopping list, eating leftovers and composting can help reduce what goes into your garbage bin by up to 40%.
9. What is the most creative thing you’ve done to reduce your waste?
I found all of my old teddy bears from when I was a little girl. Most were in great condition and now my son plays with them. But a group of them had deteriorated over the years.
With the help of my Mum, we turned those teddy bears (their fillings and casings) into a new teddy bear for my son.
10. What are your zero waste essentials for on the go?
11. What is a popular zero waste product that you don’t use and why?
Coffee cup. I’d rather sit in to enjoy my hot drink.
12. Are there any zero waste myths you’d like to debunk?
One myth I would like to debunk is you can’t live zero waste without a bulk food store. There are so many different ways to reduce waste beyond buying your food in bulk; choose second hand, repurpose, upcycle, repair, sharing, borrowing, composting.
13. Do you believe a zero waste lifestyle is possible for anyone?
Yes, I think so. It’s mindset shift more than anything, not the reusables you can buy.
14. What do you think attracts people to a more sustainable lifestyle?
I think people are starting to understand how interconnected we are to everything on this planet and that us humans haven’t been doing the right thing by the planet far too long.
There is a groundswell of movement for decades we are all catching up to; we need to change and reconnect to the earth and each other.
15. I live in an area that doesn’t have bulk shopping or many recycling options. What tips would you provide me to help me avoid plastics or any other common waste? [I can recycle cans, glass, metals, paper, but that is about all.]
Firstly I would do a bin audit at home.
There are two ways you can do this; the first option is to lay a tarp out and tip the contents of your weekly rubbish bin out and write down everything in there. The second option is keeping a piece of paper next to your bin and writing down everything you throw into it.
Do the same for your recycling. You’ll realise quickly what is taking up most of your bins.
Now it’s time to pick something (for example food scraps) and start doing something about it. And just start working through the list making the swaps you can.
Have a quick look on Facebook for any eco living or zero waste groups in your town or state, as they can help you navigate options.
16. Where do you encourage people to start with living a zero waste lifestyle?
I encourage people to take part in a plastic challenge like Plastic Free July (it’s coming up!) or start composting. Food is one of the biggest contributors to landfill and the solutions to reduce that are easier than you think.
17. For someone who has gone through the process of switching out all of their single-use items and is always prepared when they are out and about, what would you suggest they try next?
Commit to doing a no-buy month. You can’t buy anything for one whole month. Or if that seems too hard at the start then pledge to shop only second hand, sharing and borrowing. We all have closest, kitchens, garages full of stuff we can borrowing and lend out, instead of buy.
18. When you really want to open people’s eyes to the global crisis that is occurring, what do you usually share? Is it a stat, personal story, etc?
I usually share a story about food or fashion, and how crazy it is we send airplanes around the world when we have secondhand stores bursting with clothes or local farmers in our own countries. I also try to keep stories as local as possible as it helps make change feel less daunting.
19. When it comes to resources, what are some of your favorites that keep you motivated or have helped you learn throughout your journey?
I love to rewatch the movie that changed my life, The Clean Bin Project. It’s informative, funny, and motivating. I always feel recharged after viewing.
20. What are you most excited about right now? Any fun projects you’d like to share with us?
Right now I’m having fun in my new role as sustainability ambassador for Queen Victoria Market here in Melbourne. I’m also in the process of working with an editor on my children’s book. As always I have a couple of campaigns in the works on food waste and farmers.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Erin at The Rogue Ginger and her thoughts about zero waste living! Be sure to check out her blog and books, as she is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to sustainable living.
The biggest thing I learned from her in these responses is that it is easier to live a zero waste lifestyle when you focus on being resourceful. The teddy bear story is the perfect example of this!
What about you? What did you learn from Erin? Let us know in the comments!