Climate change champion, mother of four and founder of 1 Million Women, Natalie Isaacs, is an inspiring woman proving that one person is capable of making a difference.
As mothers, we all want to make this world a better place for our children, but understandably, good intentions can often go unactioned in the busyness of work and family.
Battling climate change wasn’t always on the forefront of Natalie’s mind. In fact, she was a cosmetics manufacturer and a busy mum of four.
But then, by making some simple changes, she reduced her electricity bill by 20 percent.
“I realised then that what I did was powerful, and if other people did what I just did that would be incredible,” she recalls. “I went on and changed my food waste habits and from that one action I profoundly changed the way I lived.
So, I went on to think, ‘Oh my goodness, imagine if I could share my story with other women like me, who were not engaged for whatever reason, and if I could tell my story, they might want to change too.’ That is what really led me to create 1 Million Women.”
Natalie founded 1 Million Women in 2009, and the idea was simple – get 1 Million Women to sign up to the website and make a commitment to cut a tonne of pollution out of their lives within a year.
The movement grew quickly (although Natalie admits, she thought they would reach one million women within six months), and the movement is now reaching people all over the world.
The idea was simple – get 1 Million Women to sign up to the website and make a commitment to cut a tonne of pollution out of their lives within a year.
The cause continues to climb towards their one million goal (the 1 Million Women community, which includes women who have committed as members, as well as their followers across the 1 Million Women social platforms, currently comprises more than 700,000).
Additionally, the cause has expanded to not only encourage women and give ideas on how to reduce their carbon footprint, but also take on larger campaigns, such as fighting for the Great Barrier Reef and reducing food waste.
“The heart and soul of 1 Million Women is about empowering women and girls to live with the least impact on the planet,” Natalie says. “We show you that everything we do in our daily life shapes the world we live in, and of course, this is about climate change.”
Women are responsible for 85 per cent of the consumer decisions that impact a household’s carbon footprint, and with 17 per cent of global emissions coming from households, the difference small changes can make collectively is huge.
However, it is not about making women and their families feeling guilty to facilitate change. “One of the things we have learnt is the way that we do it from a view of optimism and empowerment, not from guilt and despair,” Natalie says. “We show you how to act and we show you the results.
We bring you along the road of empowerment as opposed to making you feel guilty about what you’re not doing. It is showing this collective action – if one million of us did this, then this would be the result.”
Natalie says women are amazing at networking, and the social media following of 1 Million Women is certainly impressive. Natalie says the small team behind 1 Million Women decided to work on building their social media following and to make their blog a priority a few years ago, and it was the right decision.
“The blog went from 500 views a month to 10,000 views a day.”
Their social media community, through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is also very active – with the 1 Million Women team posting several times a day. “They are such an engaged community,” she says. “Social media is such a big part of how we communicate.”
They are also working on a (free to download) app, which is planned to be launched in February. The app will provide daily climate actions and track how much carbon pollution you save.
Natalie has recently been awarded The Australian Geographic Conservationist of the Year. “I am so honoured by it because it is real recognition of the work that we do.”
“Behaviour changing is the elephant in the room – it is the hardest thing to do.”
In an affluent community like Australia it is hard to change the way you live.
“You might do something for a month or two but then you forget. We are trying to get women to change their lives profoundly so you don’t even see it as behaviour change any more, it just becomes who you are and that is a hard thing to do.”
Since Natalie is a mother and a grandmother, she gives a sense of comfort that she truly understands how making and sticking to changes can be difficult. But, she acknowledges little changes can make a big difference and the benefits can be great.
She believes her children (the youngest is now 16) really live with an appreciation of the Earth and she encourages women to get their children onboard as well.
Natalie’s top tips to make a change
Natalie’s not suggesting you make drastic changes that will make a difference, which your family can begin today (and she didn’t suggest taking cold showers or living by candle light!).
- Take a breath when you go to buy something and ask: Do I really need it?
“Overconsumption is out of control”.
- “Buy less – less is more. We can all stop consuming and we don’t need all the stuff that we have. Share, swap, buy second-hand, buy better quality – but buy less.”
- Reduce food waste
“In Australia, we waste one in five shopping bags of food. Look at your portions. Don’t be tempted to buy two for one deals at the shops. Get yourself a worm farm or some chickens to reduce food waste.”
- Reduce energy consumption
“We can reduce energy consumption just by being vigilant around the house.”
“That was the first thing I did. I didn’t even really know what I was doing – just turning this off at the wall – but it really makes a difference.”