19 December 2013 — Natalie Isaacs isn’t being figurative when she says her 1 Million Women campaign is correctly named and targeted.
If we are going to change behaviour in sufficient quantities to change the world and save our climate, that’s at least how many women will need to be mobilised.
The number is not figurative, it’s realistic, she says.
Okay there are only – or already – 90,000 members in her group right now, depending on your optimism settings.
We spoke to Isaacs recently ahead of our regular monthly radio gig for a community radio station in Melbourne, 3WBC at 94.1 FM.
Isaacs was feeling positive. Her small team had just come back from the Warsaw climate talks where they were invited to pick up an award for their work in trying to transform behaviour among women.
It was a rare honour. 1 Million Women was one of only six projects awarded, and the only one from the developed world.
But while the boost for her team was wonderful, Isaacs said it was not so clear-cut for the conference as a whole, which has been widely panned as falling short of the action needed. Sadly Australia was singled out for ridicule and awarded “Fossil of the Day” for its poor support on climate action and refusal to send Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
Yet Isaacs still managed to find plenty of positive energy in Warsaw. The mood was “pretty down, but pretty hopeful at the same time”, she says.
Especially inspiring were the women who end up carrying much of the burden of climate change and are struggling for a voice at the climate talks.
“Women and children are at the forefront of climate change; and they’re fighting incredibly hard to have equality at the negotiating table,” Isaacs says.
“We focus on women in the developed world because of their over-consumption.”
Women, Isaacs says, are responsible for 85 per cent of consumption in Australia. We throw out $10. 5 billion of “stuff” every year that we have barely used – we throw out 20 per cent of all food we buy and we waste up to 20 per cent of the electricity we consume.
However, the good news is that in a recent program managed jointly with the City of Sydney, nine of 10 women managed to cut their energy consumption by 50 per cent. The last one wasn’t able to because she had already slashed her consumption to the bone, Isaacs said.
“It’s all very well to tick a box that you want to save the Barrier Reef, and we all have to do that without a doubt, but if you’re not living your life consciously how do you reconcile with that? How do you get angry with the government?
“We all have to live the kind of life that has the least impact; and we have to do it all… It’s got to be from the top down and bottom up.
“We have to show we have the power to change society though the way we live.”
Isaacs, who previously worked in the cosmetics industry – where packaging was all important – doesn’t call herself an activist.
Early in 2013 she told a newspaper, “I am not a climate activist. I am not a climate scientist. I am just another member of society. And I had the ability, through one simple action, to be able to completely change my life.”
So what’s her hope for getting one million women to join 1 Million Women?
Better than it has been in the past few years, she says – the mood is lifting to more positive sentiment on climate change.
The program is based on an honour system to cut a tonne of pollution.
Join up and find out how at 1 Million Women.