10 Women Who Are Fighting Plastic Pollution With Ingenious Inventions
Plastic pollution is a global threat.
Many of the world’s seas and oceans could end up carrying more plastic than fish (by weight) by 2050 if the world does not step up its fight against plastic waste. Microplastics are so prevalent now that people poop plasticand scientists have even found microplastics deep in arctic ice.
Luckily, there are some amazing women who are at the forefront of the fight against plastic pollution.
It was three ordinary women who started the No Straws Attached social media campaign that has spread around the world and created change in more than 20 countries.
It was 300 women who sailed the seas on a two-year scientific research mission to discover the real effects of plastic pollution and find solutions.
Once again, it was a woman who started Wecyclersthe innovative recycling service using a fleet of low-cost cargo bikes in Nigeria.
In addition to launching plastic-free campaigns and leading plastic solutions movements, women play a key role in the actual cycle of plastic use and recycling. They make purchasing decisions for their household and play an important role within the recycling industry itself.
However, women are also at greater risk of experiencing the impacts of plastic pollution and climate change.
Marine plastic pollution, for example, poses a huge threat to women working near the coast and tasked with filtering plastic waste. Most of this waste contains additives that can cause infertility, premature loss of pregnancy, adverse birth outcomes and even an increased risk of breast canceraccording to the Stockholm Environment Institute.
But as Mayesha Alam, an expert on climate, women’s rights and conflict at Yale University, told Global Citizen in 2020, women are not “helpless victims” of climate change.
“Their participation and leadership can have transformative effects in their countries and communities,” she said.
1. Brianne West created the world’s first zero-waste beauty brand
Ethics (the French word for ethics) is the the world’s first zero waste beauty brand. It all started in 2012 when West started making products in his kitchen. The company has since attracted a star clienteleincluding Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher, and was named New Zealand’s most sustainable company after winning the “Best in B” award in 2015.
Their most famous product is an eco-friendly solid shampoo bar – made with all natural ingredients such as coconut oil, cocoa butter and kiwi seed oil – which is completely waste-free and hard-wearing. two to five times longer than its liquid counterparts.
They have made enormous progress for the environment, preventing the creation of more than 6 million plastic bottles that might otherwise have ended up in landfills.
2. Nzambi Matee transforms plastic waste into building materials
Nairobi generates about 480 tons of plastic waste every day. A young Kenyan woman, Nzambi Matee, has made it her mission to help solve this problem, by turning plastic waste into affordable building materials for paving stones and outdoor flooring.
3. Deepanjali Kanoria invented a biodegradable sanitary napkin
After discovering that 432 million sanitary napkins dumped in landfills in India every year, Deepanjali Kanoria quit her job as a financial consultant in New York and returned home to India to pursue her new calling: creating biodegradable feminine hygiene products.
While a pad can take between 500 and 800 years to decomposeKanoria’s invention (made from corn and bamboo fibers) begins to fail after just six months.
4. Rupjyoti Saikia Gogoi turns trash into treasure
Rupjyoti Saikia Gogoi Village weavings This innovative initiative is based in Assam, India and works in three ways: it tackles plastic waste, recycles it in an eco-friendly way and empowers local women.
Gogoi’s “treasure waste” project consists of collecting waste that is thrown away by the million tourists who visit Kaziranga National Park every year. This waste is then washed, dried and transformed into products such as handbags, placemats and doormats.
The self-taught craftsman began to share her knowledge with other women in the region. In one year, hundreds of women have joined her network. Once these women have mastery, they become independent. Women can do about $150 to $200 a month after sales when tourism is at its peak.
Since the birth of the idea in 2004, the company has worked with more than 2,300 women in 35 villages in Assam.
5. Caron Proschan invented a biodegradable alternative to chewing gum
Most chewing gum contains indigestible plastic and other materials, such as rubbers and waxes. That doesn’t just mean your body can’t ingest it if you accidentally swallow it, it also means it doesn’t break down easily, which is bad news for the planet.
Here, Caron Proschan saw an opportunity and just erase was born: a natural confectionery company that is shaking up the snacking industry.
The chewing gum base is made from harvested chicle (tree sap) instead of plastic and contains no artificial ingredients.
6. Vili Petrova kicked off a menstrual cup move
While Deepanjali Kanoria (woman number three on our list) found a solution for biodegradable sanitary napkins, this inventor decided to do without them entirely thanks to menstrual cups.
Vili Petrova created the Lena Cup, a menstrual cup that collects blood, can be emptied and reused for years.
People who are menstruating need to change pads or tampons several times a day during their period, which usually lasts from four days to about a week. This means that people use a large number of pads and tampons, which may contain up to 90% plastic and end up in landfills every year.
7, 8 and 9. Quinette Goosen, Glinise Howard and Olive Grimsel start a plastic swap shop
Three women – Quinette Goosen, Glinise Howard and Olive Grimsel – set up Uitenhage Recycling Mula Swop Shop, a shop based in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa where children, especially those from low-income families, earn points by collecting recyclables, which they can then redeem for toiletries, stationery and toys.
The Mula Swop Shop helps up to 300 households per week, which also meant removing nearly 74,000 kilograms plastic from the community.
10. Sarah Kaeck created beeswax wraps to replace plastic wraps
Cling film and plastic film contribute to the plastic truck dumped into our oceans every minute.
Wanting an alternative, Vermonter Sarah Kaeck created the Bee’s Wrap — a organic, washable, durable and reusable kitchen packaging that can store everything from fruits and vegetables with pastries and leftovers.