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International Women’s Day – 3 Women Making An Impact for our Planet

Roberta Lee Empowerment, RSL, Sustainability & Ethics Leave a Comment

International Women’s Day has been celebrated every year since the 8th of March 1913. This year I am highlighting some women who are making an impact in the world today, with a focus on environmental activism – I love clothes but I don’t think they should be at the cost of our beautiful planet.

Before I celebrate these incredible women, I want to pay homage to the day itself. International Women’s Day helps to highlight the role women play in society across all nations worldwide. The purpose of today is to promote the importance of equality, women’s achievements and their positive impact on the world, as well as the continued fight against gender discrimination.

The day isn’t about saying women are better than men, or men are worse, it’s about recognising women are equal contributors. Just as there’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to celebrate the great work of parents, there is also an International Men’s Day, which is celebrated on the 19th of November each year.

In today’s post, I am focused on women whose work is contributing to the fight against fashion’s negative impact on the planet.

Dame Ellen MacArthur

Her full name is Dame Ellen Patricia MacArthur (DBE) a former competitive sailor, known for her solo record-breaking long-distance stretch around the world in 2005. It was this particular journey on a yacht that opened her eyes to the resources we use, versus what we need to stay alive – hence her interest in the consumption of our planet’s resources. She now lives in the Isle of Wight and through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, her work has inspired a generation to re-think, re-design and build a positive future circular economy.

The foundation itself has its roots in businesses, government and academia, helping to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design. Particularly relevant for those of us who like fashion – which currently works on a very linear system.

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is known as the world’s most prominent climate activist. According to online sources, her activism started when she started to encourage her parents to lower their own carbon footprint.

A few things she’s known for:

  • “Fridays For Future” movement, which started in 2018 encouraging students to walk out of school and demand action from their governments.
  • Spending every Friday on strike.
  • A 2-week strike outside the Swedish parliament asking the government to cut emissions by 15% a year.
  • Gaining 4-million people to join her and strike from 161 countries (the largest climate strike in history).
  • Being invited to speak at the UN Summits.

Greta’s work is particularly relevant for us fashionistas – the cost of our clothing on the planet is much more damaging than we give it credit for.

Apparel and footwear represent 8.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If the fashion industry continues on its current trajectory, annual production will increase to more than 100 million tonnes by 2030. The Pulse Report fashion forecast predicts emissions will grow by 63% by 2030. Not good news for our planet.

Polly Higgins

The late Polly Higgins was a passionate campaigner, lawyer and barrister who dedicated a decade to creating a law to criminalise ecological damage. The term used for these crimes has been coined Ecocide, although not legally recognised (yet), on the Ecocide website Polly stated that:

“There is a missing responsibility to protect… What is required is an expansion of our collective duty of care to protect the natural living world and all life. International ecocide crime is a law to protect the Earth.”

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A corporation's freedom ends where #ecocide begins

A post shared by Polly Higgins (@polly_higgins) on


Polly Higgins sadly passed away early 2019 – however her work will live on through her colleagues at ECOCIDE. If you believe that legislation has a role to play in making sure people are punished for crimes against our planet, you can help them make it a crime. All you need to do is donate HERE.

The fashion industry and the brands that make our clothes commit crimes against the planet every day. Changes in the law and a global commitment to address the way we treat the planet is necessary if we want to protect and preserve our planet for future generations.

There’s still lots a lot of work to do. Despite widespread environmental concerns last year all the recommendations from the Commons environmental audit committee report on the impact of fast fashion, were rejected by the government. This included:

  • The 1p per garment levy.
  • The ban on burying or incinerating clothes that could be recycled.
  • Mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover above £36 million.
  • The fashion industry to come together to set out their blueprint for a net-zero emissions world, reducing their carbon consumption back to 1990 levels.
  • Reward fashion companies that design products with lower environmental impacts and penalise those that do not.
  • Government to use the tax system to shift the balance of incentives in favour of reuse, repair and recycling to support responsible fashion companies.

If this information has frustrated you, then you can also get involved with Fashion Roundtable who advocate for long term strategic and sustainable growth for the entire fashion industry in the global marketplace.

And if you’ve enjoyed reading this, you may enjoy some of my previous blogs from the last few years which have highlighted women doing great work in honour of International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day – 35 Inspirational Quotes (2018)
5 Inspirational Women In Ethical Fashion (2018)

Until next time…

Roberta x

#IWD2020  #EachforEqual