10 Badass Women Who Dedicated Their Lives to Saving the Planet

Hi legacy-makers, it’s Maria!

For CSRS’ second fresh take, I wanted to honour a variety of women who have done amazing things for the planet and have greatly inspired me.

Hopefully, after reading their highlights here, you’ll be inspired too!

Please be mindful that this list of women is in no particular order. Each woman here, in some way, has dedicated an immense amount of time and dedication to save the planet, revolutionizing the way we approach the environment.

1. Majora Carter

Urban Revitalization Strategist

1966 (53 years old)

  • Founded the nonprofit, Sustainable South Bronx

  • Plans to use the green economy as a social and economic solution to poverty and environmental injustice

  • An important figure in fighting environmental racism - the concept of poorer areas being more prone to hazardous environments.

  • Named one of the “50 most influential women in NYC” for two years by the New York Post.

Watch Carter’s inspiring TED Talk, Greening the Ghetto: https://www.ted.com/talks/majora_carter_greening_the_ghetto?language=en

2. Julia Butterfly Hill

Environmental Activist

1974 (46 years old)

  • Lived in a redwood tree for 738 days to protest deforestation by the Pacific Lumber Company (PALCO)

  • Protested from December 10, 1997 - December 18, 1999

  • Dealt with extreme weather, falling ill easily, and externally forced attempts to bring her down.

  • Her protest efforts worked! PALCO agreed to protect the surrounding forest and donated $50,000 in forestry research.

A day in the life of Julia Butterfly Hill’s protest, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-sLTVsNv0U

3. Vandana Shiva

Scholar, Scientist, and Environmental Activist

1952 (67 years old)

"One-woman movement for peace, sustainability and social justice.”

- Beloit College

  • Speaks for those affected by the genetic modification of foods (GMOs)

  • First to link GMOs as the cause of the 300,000 farmer suicides in India, changing the way we look at mass agribusiness.

  • A pivotal figure in the Ecofeminist Movement

  • "The marginalization of women and the destruction of biodiversity go hand in hand."

  • Founded Navdanya - an organization promoting biodiversity conservation, organic farming, seed saving, and farmers’ rights

Check out Shiva’s organization, Navdanya:


4. Wangari Maathai

Political Activist

1940 - 2011

  • The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, before obtaining a Ph.D. (1971) from the University of Nairobi.

  • The first woman to become chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor at the university.

  • Founder of the Green Belt Movement - focuses on planting trees to replenish Kenya’s environment and improve their quality of life.

  • Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace."

To learn more about the Green Belt Movement, visit: http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/

5. Lois Gibbs


1951 (68 years old)

  • Discovered her neighbourhood was sitting beside 20,000 tons of toxic chemicals in Love Canal, Niagara Falls, N.Y

  • Involved her whole community by sharing information door-to-door

  • Helped relocate 833 families in the area!

  • Led the government to create the Superfund program, which is used to clean up hazardous waste sites

Learn about her journey as a homemaker turned activist: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3154230/

6. Rachel Carson

Marine Biologist, Author, and Conservationist

1907 - 1964

  • Combined her childhood passions for natural science and writing, publishing her revolutionary book, “Silent Spring.” (1962)

  • Wrote the first scientific analysis that recognized the human impact on the environment.

  • Her findings are the reason that certain harmful everyday pesticides, like DDT, are now banned.

  • Spoke out against the chemical industry harming the human population as well as the rest of the ecosystem, for which she was constantly attacked.

To learn more about Rachel Carson and other books she has published, visit: https://www.rachelcarson.org/

7. Anita Roddick

Businesswoman and Human Rights Activist

1942 - 2007

  • Founded The Body Shop, selling natural cosmetic products

  • Grew her company through consumer education & social activism instead of using high-powered advertising and selling

  • A pivotal figure in shaping ethical consumerism

  • Set her brand apart from other UK cosmetic companies by fighting against animal testing

Read about the woman who changed the way we look at business today: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/how-anita-changed-the-world-402108.html

8. Josephine Mandamin


1942 - 2019

  • Walked 17,000 km around all five Great Lakes to raise awareness for the cleanliness and protection of water.

  • Co-founded Mother Earth Water Walk Movement, as the Anishinaabe associate water with Mother Earth and believe it is the grandmothers’ responsibility to lead other women in protecting water.

  • Became head of the Anishinabek Women's Water Commission, appointing her great-niece, Autumn Peltier, in 2019.

You can follow Autumn Peltier carry her great aunt’s legacy on Instagram: @autumn.peltier

9. Sylvia Earle

Marine Biologist

1935 (84 years old)

  • Led the first all-women team of female aquanauts to explore health effects in deepwater habitats.

  • The first woman to become chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  • Founded Mission Blue to explore the ocean, create awareness, and build support for underwater ecosystems.

10. Isatou Ceesay

“Queen of Recycling”

Activist and Social Entrepreneur

1972 (48 years old)

  • Created the movement One Plastic Bag in The Gambia.

  • Taught Gambian women how to recycle plastic waste that was polluting their community into sellable products, such as purses and jewelry.

  • This movement helped women earn income and gain financial independence.

  • Her group has helped The Gambian government ban plastic bag imports.

Watch Isatou Ceesay make a purse out of a plastic bag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=509&v=1zZw7yrI22M&feature=emb_title

Of course, this list is not exhaustive of their work. I highly recommend researching more about the ones you are most interested in and try to get involved, if their initiatives are active.

These are just a few of the many, many women who have and/or continue to take action from all sorts of backgrounds, ages, and professions. There are so many female activists that are great role models, not only for us but for future generations to look up to. Take the time to learn about them and become them as after all, the future is female!

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