Our top 10 women driving change

Women play a significant role in building a more sustainable future. Greenhouse is proud to be working with the Women in Sustainability Network, bringing together female change-makers to help them connect and thrive in their green careers.

Today, our director Helen Bell is speaking on the panel “How to be a powerful influencer: developing your skills as an influential and impactful change-maker”, at the local Bristol hub, along with Lord Mayor of Bristol Cleo Lake and Happy City UK chief executive Liz Zeidler. 

To mark the occasion, we’ve put together our top pick of female change-makers who are driving change in key sectors including energy, food and fashion.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Dame Ellen MacArthur is considered the “UK’s most successful offshore racer ever”, following incredible achievements which include breaking the world’s record for the fastest solo nonstop circumnavigation of the globe in 2005.

Aware of the limits of our linear economy and the finite nature of our planet’s resources, she launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2010, with the goal of “accelerating the transition to a regenerative, circular economy”. In 2018, the Foundation teamed up with WRAP and launched the UK Plastics Pact, a collaborative initiative to tackle plastic waste which has received support from a variety of influential organisations including PepsiCo, Unilever and Defra.

Christiana Figueres, Mission 2020

Internationally recognised leader on climate change, Christiana Figueres has played a crucial role in global negotiations as the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change. She successfully directed the Conferences of the Parties (COP) from 2009 to 2015, leading to the convening of the pivotal Paris Agreement. 

She has since founded Mission 2020, a global initiative focused on bending the curve on greenhouse gas emissions to protect the most vulnerable populations from the impacts of climate change.

Amanda Keetley, Less Plastic 

Based in Devon, Amanda Keetley and her family began to reduce their plastic consumption after noticing the amount of plastic pollution on local beaches. Using her marketing background, in 2015 Amanda founded Less Plastic, a movement aimed to raise awareness of plastic pollution and empower people to reduce their use of plastic. Her infographics “Tips for living with less plastic” have been shared worldwide, and Amanda gives talks and workshops to businesses and schools on the subject. 

She has developed the “5Ps frameworkto cut down the use of plastic within organisations and is currently writing “Plastic Game Changer”, a book providing a roadmap for positive change.

Amanda also leads the local Plastic Free movement in her hometown Kingsbridge.

Sally Uren, Forum for the Future

Sally Uren is chief executive at Forum for the Future, a non-profit organisation working with business, governments & civil society to accelerate the shift toward a sustainable future across sectors including food, fashion, apparel, energy and shipping. Defining herself as a “catalyst and convener”, she is involved in projects aiming to drive systemic change including the Net Positive Group, Cotton 2040, and Tea 2030. 

Sally wears many hats – she writes for major publications such as HuffPost and Management Post, acts as an independent advisor on Advisory Boards of global companies like Burberry, and is a judge for a number of sustainability award schemes.

In the 2018 New Year’s Honours, Sally was awarded an OBE for her services to sustainability.

Sarah Butler-Sloss, Ashden Foundation

Sarah Butler-Sloss is internationally recognised for her work in the field of green energy over the past 2 decades. Sarah founded the Ashton Awards for Sustainable Energy in 2001. Ashden is a charity that supports and promotes sustainable energy enterprises from around the world. Its awards recognises the best advocacy and research in the field of sustainable energy and provides mentoring and practical support for the winners. 

She regularly contribute to UK and global policy debates in the field of sustainable energy and am active member of the UN’s International Sustainable Energy for All Practitioner Network.

Juliet Davenport, Good Energy

Juliet Davenport’s passion for combatting climate change and sustainable energy began during her time at Oxford University in 1987. This ultimately led to her founding Good Energy – a 100% renewable energy company with a mission to power a greener, cleaner future together.

In 2013 Juliet was awarded an OBE for services to renewables and in June 2015 was appointed to the board of the Natural Environment Research Council. She has various appointments with academic organisations where she works on innovation and influencing the next generation to think about our low carbon future.

Juliet is passionate about creating a business that does good; one that can deliver the needs of society in a purposeful way, rather than just thinking about money. As part of this she is working with the British Academy’s Future of the Corporation project, thinking about a better future, one where business can be the good guy.

Maria McKavanagh, Verv

Maria McKavanagh is a women in tech advocate and a prominent figure in the industry, having been nominated for the Computer Weekly top 50 Most Influential Women in Tech. Maria is a regular panellist and keynote speaker with a genuine passion and drive to change the world for the better. She is at the heart and centre of disruptive energy blockchain start-up Verv. The company is aiming to create a new marketplace for energy. 

Verv specialises in machine learning and blockchain in the energy sector. Verv unlocks rich data from the home, providing users with in-depth insights into their household energy consumption and their appliances. By integrating blockchain into its hub, Verv has created an energy trading platform that enables renewable energy to be traded between peers via its VLUX token. 

Jessi Baker, Provenance

Inspired by her mother, whom she described as a “pioneer of conscious consumption”, Jessi Baker is passionate about ethical food and supply chains. While studying for a PhD in computer science, she became interested in blockchain and came up with a way to use this technology to report on evert stage of a supply chain. 

That is how Provenance was created – the digital platform empowers brands to be more transparent and consumers to know about the origin, journey and impact of the products they buy. The start-up is now based in the UK, US, France and Germany and collaborates with small and large businesses including Coop UK and the Soil Association.   

Leslie Johnston, C&A Foundation

Leslie Johnston is Executive Director of C&A Foundation. Leslie led the Foundation’s first global vision, mission, and strategy, anchored on making fashion a force for good.

Launching just over four years ago, C&A Foundation is already shaking up global apparel industry by investing in game-changing initiatives such as Fashion for Good – a collaborative platform that unites brands and retailers across the globe to tackle fashion’s environmental and social impacts, and accelerate long-term change.

Susie Hewson, Natracare

Susie Hewson is founder and CEO of Natracare, the first company in the world to provide plastic-free, certified organic cotton tampons and natural and organic sanitary pads and liners. Last year, Susie received the first Organic Oak Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the organic sector.

Susie established Natracare in 1989 in response to the growing danger to human health and the environment from dioxin, a chemical used by the pulping industries to bleach paper products.

Find out about the #PlasticFreePeriod campaign we launched with Natracare to tackle plastic pollution in oceans.

Are you a female change-maker?

The Greenhouse team is passionate about helping pioneers increase their impact – if you’re working to build a more sustainable future and need help getting your message out there, get in touch with us.

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