End Plastics

4 Women Fighting Plastic

International Women’s Day originated at the dawn of the 20th century, a pivotal era marked by revolutionary ideals, sweeping transformations, and boundless expansion. A century ago, society was amid a profound period of progress and positive change. However, today — while the world grapples with shifting dynamics — these changes are not universally uplifting.

Now, our Earth is in need of green minds to spark creative solutions. This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating five trail-blazing women whose accomplishments move us toward a plastic-free future. 

Dianna Cohen

Dianna Cohen is not just a climate activist, but an artist as well. She studied biology, film, and art at UCLA, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She fuses her artistic talents with her environmental passions to create her legacy. 

CEO and Co-Founder of the Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC), Cohen uses plastic to create a visual and social impact. The PPC’s three pillars are to educate, connect, and advocate; what’s more, the artist fulfills these pillars in her personal life as well. Cohen has spoken around the world on stages big and small, including at the United Nations. As a speaker, she spreads messages about creating a more equitable and regenerative world, free from plastic. Notably, she gave a TED talk in 2010 titled “Tough Truths About Plastic Pollution.”

A recipient of the Global Green Environment Award, the Snow Angel Award, and the Environmentalist of the Year by SIMA, she has been recognized globally for her achievements. 

Nzambi Matee

With a degree in biochemistry, training in engineering, and a passion for the environment, it is no surprise that Nzambi Matee created a solution to sustainable and recyclable construction materials. Born and raised in Kenya, she realized there was a dire need to improve waste management. 

Founder of Gjenge Makers Ltd., Matee takes plastic waste and converts it into sustainable and affordable building materials in Nairobi, Kenya. With a degree in mechanical engineering, she realized she could combine her education with her passion for sustainability to make something meaningful. Her enterprise is transforming communities in Nairobi, as she helps people understand the value of recycled materials while simultaneously managing waste. 

Because of her successes, she has received the Award for Conservation in Africa and the UN Young Champion of the Earth Award. Matee is working to increase employment and product offerings to secure the company’s market penetration. 

Vili Petrova

Born and raised in Bulgaria, Vili Petrova moved to the United States to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Lesley University in Massachusetts. Previously, while working as a trend forecaster, she realized how much our choices as consumers define our future. With interests in further exploring both her own health and the planet’s well-being, she was inspired to create Lena Cup. 

Founder of Lena Cup, Petrova uses locally sourced materials and sustainable packing to further remove her menstrual cup company from plastics. She made her passion reality in 2015 with Lena Cup, and she continues to spread awareness of the benefits and greater impacts of reusable menstrual cups. Petrova also donates menstrual cups to young girls in developing countries, and is working to expand this donation program to improve women’s health globally. She continues to study female health and well-being, with an aim to create the best possible product for those in need. 

Karuna Singh

Karuna Singh is the Country Director of Earth Day Network, whose work is inspired by EARTHDAY.ORG. Additionally, she is the regional director for EDO Asia, overseeing some 25 countries. 

A champion in the fight against plastic, Singh has guided EARTHDAY.ORG events that actively work to reduce plastic pollution. With the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), she helped lead a 100-day campaign against plastic, where cloth was used instead of plastic for bags in markets. Singh has spoken about the climate crisis at international conferences, including the UN Conference of Parties (COP). Her work is commonly featured in print and electronic media around the world. 

Dedicated to promoting the reduction of plastic, Singh helped put together an eBook documenting how municipal bodies have legislated against plastic. Through this book and her other work, she strives to spread examples that others can emulate. 

​​Collectively, these women have inspired a plastic-free future through activism, art, business, and education. Their work stems from a need for change, but ultimately inspires a want for change. Their stories are valuable, their voices are heard, and they deserve to be celebrated every day, not just today.