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10 Women Who Are Leading the Charge on Sustainability

March not only marks the beginning of Women’s History month but the 8th day, in particular, puts the spotlight on female empowerment and celebrates the achievements of women across the globe. And this International Women’s Day, we’d like to applaud the top ten female pioneers that are blazing the trail on sustainability.

1. Dr Jane Goodall

In the 1960s, without formal academic training, Jane Goodall ventured into the forests of Tanzania to observe chimpanzees in the wild and ever since, her documented research in the field has gone on to open doors for other women in science. Today, through her namesake institute, the legendary scientist, conservationist and humanitarian is restoring critical habitat to save chimpanzees from extinction, improving health for women and education for girls. Additionally, this pioneer of change is cultivating local livelihoods in harmony with nature and helping young people become the informed generation of conservation leaders.

2. Orsola de Castro

Orsola de Castro is the co-founder of Fashion Revolution, the global movement that is tirelessly campaigning for systemic reform of the fashion industry with a focus on the need for greater transparency and sustainability. The non-profit organisation was born as a response to the most tragic garment factory incidents in Rana Plaza (Bangladesh) and since then Orsola has become an internationally recognised opinion leader in sustainable fashion. Even today, Orsola is tirelessly championing sustainability through her latest book ‘Loved Clothes Last’, while spreading her knowledge as an activist and lecturer at some of the top fashion schools in London.   

3. Stella McCartney

A household name in luxury fashion today, Stella McCartney is the first designer that comes to mind when we think of sustainable fashion. After launching her fashion label in 2001, the daughter of Beatles member Paul McCartney gained immediate success with her eco-friendly clothing and accessories range. A lifelong vegetarian, Stella McCartney does not use any leather or fur in her designs. Her long-standing commitment to sustainability is evident throughout all her collections and is part of the brand’s ethos to being a responsible, honest, and modern company.

4. Liya Kebede

International supermodel turned super sustainable activist, Liya Kebede is a self-proclaimed ‘accidental entrepreneur’ whose brand LemLem is empowering artisan groups across Africa. The company is a mission-driven business that was born out of the need to improve the plight of weavers in Ethiopia, who presented an opportunity to create something that is economically sustainable. Her brand now employs 250 weavers in Addis Ababa and 5% of its sales go to the Lemlem Foundation, which supports women artisans in Africa. Liya is also a UN Goodwill Ambassador who managed to leverage her modelling career for the greater good. 

5. Céline Semaan

We believe that there’s no better way to understand sustainability than by educating yourself about it. And that is exactly what Céline Semaan set out to do with her ventures ‘Slow Factory’ and ‘The Library’ where her focus is on sustainable literacy and accessibility in the fashion industry and beyond. Her platform consumes its learners in the cognitive processes of sustainability and circular practices, at absolutely no charge for all students. 

6. Livia Firth

Livia Firth is the co-founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age, one of the leading consulting and creative agencies that specialise in integrated sustainability. She is better known for producing ‘The True Cost’, a famous documentary highlighting the untold story and asks us to consider who really pays the price for our clothing. Livia is also the founder of the Green Carpet Challenge, a project that aims to raise the profile of sustainability and social welfare by encouraging celebrities to wear ethical designs at high profile events.

7. Kate Fletcher  

A sustainability advocate bar none, Kate Fletcher is a renowned researcher, writer and design activist, whose work over the past 15 years has shaped the field of fashion and sustainability. Kate’s original thinking and progressive outlook has infused the field of fashion, textiles and sustainability with design thinking, and come to define it. She has also co-founded the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion and has recently released the Earth Logic Fashion Action Research Plan, which is a shareable document that advocates for an “Earth-first” approach, built around the idea that “without a healthy planet, all activities will cease”.

8. Greta Thunberg

Better known as the young Gen-Zer, who made it cool to be a  sustainable activist, Greta Thunberg a Swedish teenager who skipped school and inspired an international movement to fight climate change.  She began campaigning for climate change at the young age of 15, soon after which her protests went viral on social media and support for her cause grew larger. Ever since, the spirited Greta has gone on to attend key climate conferences, join student protests around the world and was named TIME Magazine’s Person of the year 2019.

9. Dana Thomas

Dana Thomas is a famed fashion author who has profiled some of fashion’s heavyweights in her titles but most notably penned the book 'Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes', which takes a deep dive into how fast fashion is taking a toll on our lives and our planet. Following the release of her book, Dana has given a TEDx Talk on fashion’s sustainable revolution, spoken at the prestigious Business of Fashion’s Voices event and continues to inspire many by using fashion to tell a bigger story.

10. Clare Press

Clare Press is the presenter of the Wardrobe Crisis podcast, a sustainable author of 3 books and Australian Vogue’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large, the first position of its kind globally. She is a passionate advocate for the circular economy, sustainable fashion and the industry’s go-to journalist on the subject. In 2018, she was made Global Ambassador for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative and is currently writing her fourth book about the future of fashion.


Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2021-03-07

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