“I was in the grocery store with my four-year-old, explaining why I was not going to buy that cheap plastic toy that every kid wants.”
Studies show that educating and empowering women to take up sustainable and eco-friendly livelihoods is one of the most effective solutions in tackling human-induced climate change. Sometimes, life experience is the best teacher and organically spurs women to lead environmental missions in their own communities. Here are three inspiring women from around the world who are doing just that.
Geeta Solanki, founder of Unipads India. Geeta Solanki, MBA, and former marketing professional was motivated to launch Unipads India in Gujarat after she was diagnosed with a vaginal cyst in 2016 that required surgery. This made the disposable sanitary pads she would use normally extremely painful to wear. Following her mother’s suggestion, Solanki decided to try traditional cloth pads and found that they were much more comfortable.
After doing some research, she realized that there were only a few suppliers of reusable cloth pads in India, and the ones that were available were expensive and could only be purchased online. This meant almost 90 percent of Indian women couldn’t access them.
The average woman throws away 125 to 150 kg of disposable sanitary pads throughout the course of her life. Through Unipads India, Solanki isn’t just providing underprivileged women with sustainable, safe, and affordable menstrual products, but she is able to employ 135 women who were previously living in rural poverty.
Axelle Jorcin, founder of People and the Sea. Back in 2013, a monstrous typhoon hit a small island in the Philippines called Malapascua. Axelle Jorcin, an ex-BP supply chain manager and frequent diver, was on holiday there at the time and saw firsthand the devastation that the typhoon brought to the Malapascua community.
She said, “All the houses were destroyed, and we had to leave the island immediately. We returned home to France and felt a sense of helplessness. We wanted to do more than just send money to rebuild houses… because what would happen the next time a typhoon hit? Nothing would have changed.”
Unable to sit idly in France, Jorcin launched People and the Sea, a charity that aims to bring lasting sustainability to the residents of the tiny island of Malapascua. People and the Sea have programs that empower the entire community through education in marine science and environmental education, zero waste strategies, economic resilience, and sustainable fishing practices.
Cheryl Rosebush, founder of the What the World Needs Now series. For Cheryl Rosebush, an ex-journalist from Canada, a simple trip to the grocery store with her young son pushed her to publish a children’s series that teaches the youth of today the value of sustainable living.
“I was in the grocery store with my four-year-old, explaining why I was not going to buy that cheap plastic toy that every kid wants,” she says. “It’ll break in the next couple of days… you’ll be sad, we’ll put it in the garbage, some garbage ends in the ocean, a whale might see that piece of plastic, think it is food, eat it, and that will make the whale sick.”
Later that night, during bedtime, her son explained back to her what might happen if they had purchased the plastic toy, which was her “lightbulb moment.”
“[She] realized that we can and should be talking to really young kids about environmental problems,” so she started the What the World Needs Now series to facilitate that conversation between parents and their children.
Rosebush’s book is as sustainable as its message; it is produced with 100 percent recycled paper as well as a biodegradable lamination, vegetable-based inks, and carbon-balanced printing.