Women That Are Manhandling the Plastics Crisis
Mother Earth practically has a plastic bag wrapped around her head. We won’t dwell on the depressing details because this is an inspirational story, but here are a few bummer highlights:
An accumulation of trash floating 1000 miles off the coast of California is called the Great Pacific Gyre, and it’s double the size of Texas.
A plastic bag was found in the Marina Trench, the deepest part of the ocean
Over 1 million marine animals (including mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and birds) are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean (FUCK THAT)
Micro and nano plastics disrupt the endocrine system, which interferes with human hormones
There is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way
Yikes, we’ve got a big problem. Luckily, there are brilliant people all over the planet taking action to rethink plastic, educate, advocate, and clean up this embarrassing mess.
To address this plastics crisis, we need a multidisciplinary approach with all hands on deck. That means everyone’s individual talents are valuable in the effort to recover plastic from the ocean and to end the waste stream.
So, what’s YOUR thing? Science, storytelling, beach cleanup, art, conservation, policy, invention, music? To inspire the problem solver in YOU, here are six downright badass women to learn from.
What They Do: A series of all-women sailing voyages and scientific research mission.
Woman in Charge: eXXpedition co-founder Emily Penn sails around the world to change it. She takes scientists, filmmakers and interested individuals along with her to research and raise awareness about the plastics crisis. On land she creates “upstream solutions” with corporate partners, scientists and government.
Inspiration from eXXpedition: Our vision is clean oceans and happy humans in a world where women are treated equally and have fair access to resources. Through our personal and collective journeys we hope to inspire followers to understand the relationship between our bodies, the products we consume and the world we inhabit.
Fun Fact: Since 2014, over 100 multidisciplinary crew members have been sailing on 11 voyages completing citizen science, community outreach and exploring how they can apply their skills to plastic pollution.
“… Only exes that I care about are in my fucking chromosomes” - Lizzo
Company: Stasher Bags
What They Do: Stasher created a reusable alternative to disposable plastic baggies and single use plastic containers.
Woman in Charge: Founder Kat Nouri has single handedly told single-use plastics: “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us, bitch!” She has disrupted the food storage industry and prevented millions of single-use plastics from piling up in landfills and polluting our oceans. YAS QUEEN!
Inspiration from Stasher Bags: Each day, we have opportunities to make better choices for the environment — like using reusable bags and straws and buying food in bulk. And together, we can turn small daily shifts into big impact.
Fun Fact: Your Stasher bag is down to hang out in the fridge, freezer, dishwasher, microwave, and even boiling water for your chefy sous vide needs!
Going Zero Waste
Company: Going Zero Waste
What They Do: Thought leadership and education on living a Zero Waste lifestyle.
Woman in Charge: All hail Queen Kathryn! Kathryn Kellogg is an expert, author, and Instagram influencer focused on zero waste living.
Inspiration from Kathryn: Small actions done by hundreds of thousands of people will change the world. You don't have to be perfect to make a difference, you just have to try.
Fun Fact: Kathryn works for a company called Pela Case that makes awesome plastic free sunglasses and phone cases!
Wisdom Supply Co.
Company: Wisdom Supply Co.
What They Do: They have all your back-to-school shopping needs. And unlike Staples or Office Depot, they actually give a shit about the environment! Even if you’re not a student, you probably need the Zero Waste Stow bag in your life.
Women in Charge: Heather Itzla and Nikki Kozlowski think the creation of garbage from disposable school supplies is insane. Agreed! That’s why they made this amazing line of back-to-school products you can feel good about buying.
Inspiration from Wisdom Supply Co.: We believe the time for facing the harms caused by convenience culture has come. With this knowledge comes the drive to make the immediate changes in our habits and purchasing choices, that can prevent tons of plastics from ever entering the world wide waste stream.
Fun Fact: Wisdom Supply Co. is named after a Laysan Albatross named Wisdom, the oldest wild bird ever recorded. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, “She is at least 65 years old and a world renowned symbol of hope for all species that depend upon the health of the ocean to survive.”
Sandra Pascoe Ortiz
Company: Researcher at the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico.
What They Do: Created a biodegradable plastic from juice of the prickly pear cactus. Ay, que rico, that’s good!
Woman in Charge: Sandra Pascoe Ortiz is the researcher behind the cactus plastic formula. It’s totally non-toxic, all the materials could be ingested both by animals or humans and they wouldn’t cause any harm.
Inspiration from Sandra: I believe that it is never too late to start changing things. Every day there is a new opportunity to do things better, so if we each do what we have to do, there is another opportunity to reverse all the damage we have done to the planet.
Fun Fact: Sandra says that if her cacti-plastic ends up in the ocean and doesn’t get eaten by fish, it will disintegrate in about ten days. The material is biodegradable and non-toxic, the harvesting of cactus pads does not kill the plant, requires little water, and propagation is fairly easy. Si por favor.
Company: Non-Toxic Revolution
What They Do: Inform, educate and inspire young people to revolt against the dangers of toxic chemicals in their environment and food supply, especially those linked to the development of breast cancer.
Woman in Charge: Shaney Jo Darden is equal parts artist, activist, and awesome. She is a leading voice and philanthropy expert in the cultural conversation about breast cancer.
Inspiration from Shaney: There is a message of hope in these research findings: we can control our exposure to toxic chemicals through personal action and by leading others to do the same. And we are giving you the tools to make your life healthier today!
Fun Fact: Shaney makes papier-mâché breast casts that are painted by artists with NTR’s umbrella foundation Keep A Breast. Shaney Jo can’t stop won’t stop advocating for women’s health and safety. And she’s been loving boobies since 2000!
Now that you’re feeling pumped and empowered, here are easy things you can do to show Mother Earth you care.
Invest in reusables: water bottles, shopping bags, food storage, and straws.
Ask your local grocery store to chill out with the plastics. I mean, seriously, oranges DON’T need a plastic covering, nature GAVE them a wrapper. I’m lookin at you Trader Joes.
Ditch balloons, glitter, and confetti. Make confetti out of tree leaves with a hole punch instead.
Get inspired to start your own movement, organization, or company.
Donate to antiplastics groups and buy from sustainable companies like the ones on this list.
For a comprehensive list of inspiring anti-plastics change makers, check out this coalition.