Natalie Isaacs: taking a big idea global | Women's Agenda

Natalie Isaacs: taking a big idea global

Natalie Isaacs is a woman who proves that if you have a good idea, run with it. You never know, you may just be able to leave your mark on the world.

The founder of 1 Million Women, an initiative that aims to attract one million women to sign up to reduce their carbon footprint (it’s currently at the 80,000 mark) will land in New York in September to share what she knows about engaging women to take action on climate change. She’s the only Australian attending the Hundred Women Summit, and will join former Irish prime minister Mary Robinson, author Naomi Klein, actor Jane Fonda and anthropologist Jane Goodall in creating a blueprint for how the world’s women – in developing and developed nations – can work together on climate change.

Isaacs has certainly come a long way for somebody who first made her name and mark as a successful cosmetics entrepreneur. Indeed, she admits she wasn’t even engaged in the issue just a few years ago, but has since managed to seriously channel her new-found passion into an effort that generates results.

While in cosmetics, she concedes she didn’t give much thought to how her actions were contributing to climate change. This was despite being part of an industry built on consumerism, over-packaging and not-so-environmentally friendly ingredients.

But that changed in 2006 when Isaacs says she had an ‘epiphany’, one which saw her question how her products were contributing to climate change and consider how she could change her personal behaviours that contribute to climate change. Within three years, she created 1 Million Women, a grassroots Australian organisation uniting women to share ideas and strategies for personally reducing their carbon footprint. She has some of Australia’s most prominent women in politics, business and entertainment involved. And with over 40,000 likes on Facebook as well as those 80,000 who’ve signed up online, the movement continues to grow.

So how did she do it? Speaking with Isaacs, the passion is obvious. But more appealing is the fact she’s genuine, down-to-earth and clearly out to contribute to a cause that many would think is too big to bother dealing with in a meaningful way.

She believes it was her former lack-of-engagement in climate change that’s truly driven the success of 1 Million Women. Started as a “women’s movement” rather than a “green movement”, Isaacs says she’s been able to have the issue connect with so many women because she was once one of those woman who didn’t fully appreciate the consequences of her behaviours on the environment, nor believe that she could do all that much to help.

“I had absolutely no background in this at all,” she told me. “I’m not an activist or a climate scientist. I was once completely disconnected from all of this. I’m just a member of a society who felt she had an obligation to act. That’s it.”

Isaacs says she hopes to share with the Summit what she’s learnt creating 1 Million Women, particularly on how long-held consumer behaviours can be changed.

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