Creating a positive change for society or the environment is the goal of these ten innovative women. Below, we describe their inspiring projects and the difference they’re making in the world.
Morgan Dixon – Girltrek
In 2010, Morgan Dixon founded the largest public health movement for black women in America. Girltrek, a non-profit organization, is a community of women that walk together and become changemakers. Morgan realized the health problems her community of women was facing were urgent and wanted to help. She highlights the alarming statistic that of the 20 million black women in the U.S., 80% are overweight, and 50% are obese. This group is also the most affected by heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
By assembling the women and girls of her neighborhood for walks, Morgan aims to heal the community. She hopes that the exercise and social interaction will help prevent depression and loneliness. She is also convinced that by helping these women live a healthier life, it will also positively affect other areas of their lives. Already 370,528 women have joined the Girltrek movement and its founders hope they will reach one million women in 2020.
The daily walks not only have a health purpose, but also a social and environmental one. While women are walking around their neighborhood, they become aware of their needs. Morgan won the ‘Teach for America’s’ 2012 Social Innovation Award.
Alexandra Bernadotte – Beyond 12
Originally from Haiti, Alexandra Bernadotte arrived in the US when she was seven. She was the first member of her family to go to college and during it, she faced failing grades and lacked a support system.
Now, with her non-profit, Beyond 12, she aims to increase the number of low-income and first-generation students who graduate from college. The company combines technology and coaching to help young people succeed. Alexandra notes that currently, only 9% of young people from the poorest families graduate college. Alternatively, 77% of high-income families’ children graduate.
Beyond 12 has a three-activity mission. They track school data of the students, connect students and colleges to other students and campus resources through an app, and finally, they coach young people. Alexandra Bernadotte won the 2019 GSE Alumni Excellence in Education Award, while Beyond 12 was named one of the World’s 10 Most Innovative Education Companies by Fast Company.
Jessica Ladd – Callisto
A large amount of sexual harassment issues are committed during the college years, but less than 20% are reported in the US. This is partly due to the reporting process that can be traumatizing and isolating, sometimes involving personal risks. Jessica Ladd knows this too well, being a sexual assault survivor herself.
So, she created Callisto, a platform allowing people to report their assault and connect with others dealing with the same situation. Due to this, people are becoming aware that they are not the only ones. The platform can help identify offenders thanks to the various testimonies that help institutions and authorities act. This is significantly impactful knowing that most of the time assailants, who are repeat offenders, are not tracked. Over 99% of offenders never face serious consequences. Thanks to Callisto, people who visit the platform are six times more likely to report their assault.
Michelle Hedlund – Recycle Across America
Michelle Hedlund is working to fix the recycling problem in the U.S. The reality is that the current levels of recycling haven’t improved in a decade. Michelle realized that there was a huge confusion at the time of recycling due to the different labels on the bins. This misunderstanding causes mistakes and millions of tons of garbage to end up in recycling bins every day. The recycling bins full of trash prevent an efficient recycling process. They also lead to contamination, which means lesser-quality recycled materials at the end of the process.
Michelle had the idea to create a standardized label for bins. Due to this, people aren’t confused anymore when they throw something in a bin. Everything is more clear and the recycling can finally be done well done. Recycle Across America Label is supported by numerous celebrities and already adopted by many large companies across the US, like Disney, Bank of America and Sony.
Jasmine Crowe – Goodr
After having fed people in need from her kitchen for five years, Jasmine Crowe decided to make a bigger change. Over 72 billion pounds of edible food is wasted in the US every year. To top it off, many people are living with food insecurity in the US. Jasmine created a food waste management company to provide this food surplus to non-profits.
With Goodr, Jasmine is making an impact through technology. With the app, companies can signal that they have a surplus of food, then, Goodr collects the food to give to organizations. A secure ledger allows the company to track their food’s journey from pickup to donation. Jasmine’s motivation is that she believes ‘everybody deserves to eat’ so that’s what she is fighting for.
Ericka Rodriguez – Axiology
Ericka Rodriguez is the creator of Axiology, a vegan lipstick brand. Living a vegan lifestyle, her cosmetics brand started when she tried to create, without any knowledge in cosmetic chemistry, a lipstick made of 100% natural products. Her lipsticks are made of 10 natural ingredients like coconut oil, elderberry extract and avocado butter.
Being a cruelty-free brand, a percentage of its profits are donated to the International Orangutan Foundation. The packaging is also eco-friendly, made of recycled materials made from trash from Bali, Indonesia. Ericka’s lipsticks are sold worldwide and you can find them in Sephora stores.
Lindsay McCormick – Bite
Lindsay McCormick is a travel-lover who founded Bite because she realized the number of toothpaste tubes she as using that would then end up in the landfills. She also was not a fan of the unknown ingredients that had chemical components in them. So, she created her waste-free, vegan toothpaste tablets that now come in two flavors. Lindsay started her store from her apartment selling to friends and family until Bite took off and demand grew rapidly.
Bite’s packaging is plastic-free, reusable and easy to take while you travel. The little tablets become foamy when you bite it then brush your teeth. It can also be used as a mouthwash when diluted.
Sarah Paiji – Blueland
After realizing the amount of plastic bottles she used in her daily cleaning routine, Sarah Paiji decided to change this. She started Blueland where she offers reusable cleaning products that are cruelty-free and without toxic substances. The packaging can be recycled because it’s made of paper FSC-certified. The using process is simple, you just have to buy the bottle once and then refill it with the tablets made of natural ingredients that need to be diluted.
Sarah wanted to be part of the solution and to prevent the 14 billion pounds of trash that ends up in the ocean every year. With Blueland, you don’t have to buy plastic cleaning bottles anymore because Blueland’s are eco-friendly and reusable. It’s also more economical because you just have to buy compostable and biodegradable tablets. They have 3 products currently: Multi-surface, Bathroom, and Glass + Mirror Cleaner. Sarah’s hope with Blueland is to give everyone the opportunity to lower their impact.
Lindsey McCoy – Plaine Products
Lindsey used to live in the Bahamas and every day was confronted by the sad reality of the beaches and oceans that were polluted by tons of plastic. It was then that the problem became obvious to her and she decided to make a change by partnering with her sister. She wanted to use less plastic but didn’t know-how. She especially noticed all the single-use plastic bottles in her bathroom. So, with her sister, she started Plaine Products to provide bathroom products, like shampoo and soap, that are safe for us and the planet.
Their products are vegan, non-GMO ingredients, biodegradable and come in eco-friendly packaging. They offer a reusing system that allows every customer to order a refill, switch the pump of the bottle and send the old bottle back for free. As well as being a zero-waste system, it also creates more jobs than the traditional recycling system according to Plaine Products. The brand is part of the 1% for the Planet Movement and a certified B-corp.
Cyndi Sladics – Simply Straws
Simply Straws provides safe and eco-friendly straws. The brand offers handmade glass and stainless steel straws that are reusable and biodegradable. Moreover, they use renewable energy for most of the production. Simply Straws is a 1% for the planet member and certified B-corp. They also support The National Geographic initiative called “Planet or Plastic?” and various other non-profits.
Simply Straws’ goal is to raise awareness about sustainability and health. After having faced some personal problems that prevented the company from growing, the Sladics family sold, in 2017, 5% of the company to an investor friend and Simply Straws started to grow, in 2018 they sold almost double compared to the last year.
These companies prove that we can change small things in our daily life to protect the planet and our health. Each one of them contributes to an awareness movement that continues to grow. If you want to make a difference you can support them and other sustainable or social impact projects.
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