Local People


Meet Ginger Rogers, A War on Waste Warrior + Great Aussie Waste Founder


by Jenae Johnston


People making a difference in our community and in the world? They’re our sort of people!

That’s why when we heard about what Shellharbour local, Ginger Rogers was doing, we wanted to find out more.

Ginger has coined the term ‘practical environmentalism’, started The Two Week Bin Challenge and is the founder of The Great Aussie Waste Challenge.

She’s all about making recycling and minimising waste practical and part of every day life. The burden of climate change and the current stress on our environment can be pretty overwhelming at times and had to unpack as individuals.

It’s easier to bury our head in the sand [with all the micro plastics] until it’s not, right??

Well, when The Two Week Bin Challenge came across our Facebook feed, we got involved and guys….it’s an absolute game changer.

We thought we were pretty good at the whole recycling thing – doing the whole Return and Earn thing, and actively filling up the recycling bin – turns out we could make some big improvements. But those big improvements were actually small changes that have made a humungous impact.

See? Doable!

We sat down with Ginger at the new Marina in Shell Cove to have a casual conversation about waste over a wine.

And we can assure you, no wine went to  waste! See? Totally dedicated to the cause….



1 :: Tell us about The Great Aussie Waste Challenge and how you became a warrior on waste. 


Back in 2018 I became self- aware about how my own household was a part of Australia’s waste problem.

After watching The War on Waste on the ABC,  I had a distinct sense of discomfort with our own overflowing red bin.

My daughters, who were 8 and 12 at the time, were shocked at the stories that were shared in that program and the sheer waste that was happening.

I decided to work with our bin cycle and challenge ourselves for two weeks to see if we could make a difference by simply sorting correctly, using FOGO and separating soft plastics.

In two weeks we went from an overflowing bin to 2-3 bags, and I was hooked!

I thought if we could do it, everyone else could too – provided they had access to the right information through an engaging platform.  So The Challenge was born!


Illawarra Ginger Rogers


2 :: How do you engage people to start thinking about waste, and what makes it different to how people currently get their information on dealing with waste?


Education tends to be passive and not overly engaging. You have to go looking for the information on say a council website, for example.

And yes, what you put in your bin isn’t traditionally a dinner party conversation or front of mind for many to even consider googling.

I like positive and fun engagement, so I start with the things that everyone typically agrees on.

All Aussies pretty much agree that recycling is important – there’s the first tick!

Then I confirm that if it’s important, you want to be doing it correctly, right? And the answer is almost always an enthusiastic yes.

Right there, the conversation about waste is blown wide open with a positive tone and open discussion. 


3 :: And your social media platform carries that conversation on.


Yep, we have an interactive Facebook platform where I use humour and colour – two things that people love!

We make it interesting, engaging and fun – it’s all about community and bringing people together.

We combine good community engagement, education and effective communication.

When it comes to waste – a not so glamorous topic – it’s important to tick all those boxes to keep all ages engaged.


Ginger Rogers The Great Waste Challenge


4 :: What feedback do you get from locals who have done The Two Week Challenge?


Most households have a huge reduction in what they are dumping into landfill through the red bin.

The biggest ‘bin sins’ are soft plastics awareness, plastic bags in the yellow bin and unintentional contamination.

Once people become aware of the impact of their actions on what happens to their waste after it leaves the kerb, they become much more likely to change their habits permanently.


Ginger Rogers Two Week Bin Challenge


5 :: What would you recommend to people keen to do The Two Week Challenge?


My starting recommendation for those looking to reduce their waste is to become aware.

When you go to the bin with an item, and you don’t know which bin it should go in, you have found your first question and discovery in your waste journey!

Slow down, take care and educate yourself – your impact does make a difference!


Ginger Rogers War On Waste


6 :: You’ve had some recent success with an award – tell us more!

Yes! The Challenge won the 2021 NSW Keep Australia Beautiful Resource Recovery & Waste Minimisation award.

The Two Week Red Bin Challenge campaigns have on average reduced the landfill waste of participants by 50%, and in some cases up to 70%!

I was able to create two case studies for campaigns that were run in 2021 – one being a Lockdown Round for Shellharbour residents and another for a street in Mangerton.

All up, over 60 households reduced their collective household waste by 50% and I guess that’s why we won the award!

I’m so happy and so grateful as this acknowledgement will enable us to expand the program and reach more Australian households.


Ginger Rogers Recycling Tips


7 :: What changes would you like to see happen on a local level and national level?


I would LOVE to see more mandates and government incentives put into packaging reductions and the sourcing of recycled content.

The Federal and State Government incentives for funding for new recycling facilities and packaging targets are great – but we should be putting this on steroids and completely incentivising the development of a local recycling industry with financial incentives for packaging reductions, employment and improvements. 

There is also not enough focus on the reduction part of the equation.

Recycling is great, but our waste generation per head of population ranks us Aussies in the top five of developed nations, so we must reduce our consumption.

And we need far better connection with Australians for education and motivation for change. Luckily The Challenge is here and ready to support every household in the journey.

Amazing – thanks Ginger!!!

Ginger Rogers helps every day locals learn about practical ways to reduce their environmental footprint by reducing waste and better disposing of it. Her program is now being recognised and used by many councils across NSW to help their local communities better understand and reduce waste.


Find out more about Ginger’s ‘The Great Waste Challenge’ and how she can help you take your waste and recycling to the next level with practical tips and information through her Facebook page and The Great Aussie Waste Challenge website.


Ginger Rogers Founder of The Great Aussie Waste Challenge

Related Posts