How Natalie Isaacs, founder of 1 Million Women, is driving change to save the planet



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Like finally tallying up those receipts for your tax return, or sorting out all those boxes of stuff that have been piling up in your cupboards, there are plenty of situations in life where burying your head in the sand for as long as humanly possible is absolutely the preferable option.

It can be tempting to feel like the issue of climate change is one of those easily-ignored topics. It's an issue so vast, so multi-faceted, and, at times, so seemingly unconquerable that it's entirely natural to wonder what you could possibly do about it. 

The answer, says Natalie Isaacs, is simple. Just replace the "you" with "we".

Having spent decades working in the fast-moving cosmetics industry, where single-use plastics, planet-punishing chemicals and the huge emissions associated with the shipping of goods are par for the course, Natalie says she was "totally disengaged on the issue of climate change".

"I thought it was someone else's problem. But it's not - it's a problem for all of us," she says. "It's not some impossible mountain to climb, it's something we can all do our part to fix. In fact, I believe it's something we're all obligated to fix." 

The moment that would, quite literally, change Natalie's life - and her entire outlook on the issue of climate change - arrived in 2007, when she successfully lowered her energy bill after making a few simple changes around her home. 

"These tiny changes meant I was not only saving money, but using 20 per cent less coal-fired electricity," she says. "But on a planet with 7.6 billion people, my achievement was a tiny drop in the ocean."

It was here, Natalie says, that she realised the enormous power of "we". 

"What if I could multiply that impact by 10, or a hundred, or a thousand, or a million? That would make a huge difference. If I could just get millions of people to do the same simple things I had done, that would mean real change," she says. 

"That's when 1 Million Women was born."

But while having an idea is easy, starting a movement would prove something else entirely. Natalie wasn't just keen to make changes in her life, and the lives of those around her, she was Talkin' 'bout a Revolution. The question was, where to start?

"I didn't know much about climate change. I didn't know anything about  policies. I didn't even really know who the Environment Minister was," the Nissan ambassador says. "And I certainly had no idea how to start a movement. But I had this belief that I had to get my story out there.

"From day one it was about empowerment. We focus on what you can do, not on guilt, or wallowing in despair.

"We focus on doing something. On being powerful in the face of this challenge. On believing in a better tomorrow. We are stubbornly optimistic. That's the choice we make." 

When Natalie says "we", she is referring to 1 Million Women, the movement she founded and spent years building that aims to empower women to realise that strength really does come in numbers. 

"I'm proud to say we have more than 980,000 followers on social media," she says. "Our website is visited by three million people a year, and during our first waste-free October, we cut 100,000 tons of pollution from the atmosphere.

"Individually we're small, but together, we're an army. And we will make a difference." 

Natalie says the driving theme of 1 Million Women, which is the love of the Earth, is what drew her towards the Nissan LEAF EV.  

"When you're connected to the Earth, you want to fight for it - and that's the Nissan LEAF to me," says Natalie. "It represents that love. Transport is one of the biggest contributors to global emissions, but I can be connected, mobile, independent, and still do my part for the planet." 

Cutting out a two-hour-plus daily work commute on a fossil fuel-consuming bus has also totally transformed her life, Natalie says.

"Now I drive, knowing that I'm making a difference," she says proudly. "My LEAF is everything you want a modern car to be. It's silent, smooth and easy to drive. It's comfortable, and the technology makes it so easy to stay connected. But knowing there's no emissions from the exhaust pipe - it doesn't even HAVE one - is the greatest joy of all." 

Like most others, Natalie was initially confused about EVs - how they were charged, how far they could go, how they even worked. Those concerns, though, were speedily overcome. 

"I didn't know anything about range or batteries, or even how an electric vehicle worked, but it fit into my life so perfectly, and an EV will fit into your life, too," she says. 

"I don't even have a fast charger at home. I simply plug it into the regular mains power, and let my solar panels do their thing. Before you know it, I'm on the road again, knowing I'm using only the sun to power my commute, and leaving no lasting impact on the world around me."

When asked if she'd recommend an EV to others, Natalie is effusive with her endorsement. 

"If you're thinking about an electric car, then please, just do it," she says. "And if you ever think you're just one person, what impact could your decisions possibly have, then remember; you're never alone in this. There are a million women standing right alongside you. And together, we will make a difference."