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International Women’s Day, on 8th March, is a day that ignites inspiration across the globe through the achievements of inspirational and aspirational women. The first International Women’s Day was way back in 1911 and was centred around women’s rights to work, vote and hold public office. We’ve come a long way since then but we’ve still got a long way to go, which is why IWD is still very much a part of modern day culture. The theme for IWD 2020 is #EachforEqual, so it’s about celebrating women’s achievements, fighting bias and creating a gender equal world. In honour of IWD, we’re spotlighting a whole load of women who are paving the way in their respective fields.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”
Gloria Steinem

Sophie Tait

Trash Plastic

Although we have highlighted some of favourite sustainable Londoners on our LOTI Heroes list and in our articles on sustainable swaps, there’s far more out there than we can cover. So we really recommend having a look at the site Trash Plastic if you are serious about reducing your reliance on plastic. Run by Londoner Sophie Tait, it’s an incredible resource of sustainable swaps for the whole house, with everything from plastic-free dental care to pet food and kitchen goods. If you’re serious about going plastic-free this site will come as a huge help.

Sophie Slater and Sarah Beckett


It’s estimated that 60 million women worldwide – aged 18-35 and working in the garment industry – make less than minimum wage. These women are making the clothes we see on the high street everyday, and are hidden in the fashion supply chain. London company Birdsong, founded by Sophie Slater and Sarah Beckett in 2014, is aiming to do things differently however – they work with skilled women makers in the UK that face barriers to employment, and pay them a fair wage. Sophie and Sarah offer an inspiring alternative model for how the fashion industry can work, a protest against the practices of the global chains and its abuses.

Zanna van Dijk & Natalie Glaze

Stay Wild Swimwear

Created by two bloggers, Zanna Van Dijk and Natalie Glaze, Stay Wild is helping fight the scourge of plastic in our oceans with their eco-friendly swimwear. The swimwear is all made from a genius little thing called ECONYL®, a yarn crafted from regenerated fishing nets collected from the ocean as well as other scrap materials, which is turned into high-quality fabric that can be used to make premium swimwear. Although they’re tackling an issue that affects the whole planet, we love that it’s a London brand through and through – the factory is based in north London and at every stage of the process they work with London-based start-ups and sustainability leaders. What’s more, the factory is a social enterprise that brings women from disadvantaged backgrounds in and trains them in clothing production, developing their skills to a high standard and improving their job prospects for the future. Good for the planet, good for London, and looks good on you: we love Stay Wild.

Alex Head

Social Pantry

Social Pantry is an events and catering company that’s worked with the likes of Alexander McQueen, H&M, Adidas, Harvey Nichols, Rihanna and Gigi Hadid. Food-wise, there’s a focus on fresh, seasonal grub and root-to-stem cookery and in terms of personnel, over 10% of the workforce are ex-offenders. Alex goes into London prisons herself and recruits behind bars ahead of, as well as on, release. Offering opportunity and supporting these employees has and will continue to change lives. She recruits through Novus and charities such as Switchback and Key4Life who are all doing great work too. Commenting on the scheme Alex says: “I’m so proud to employ ex-offenders as they are ambitious, hardworking, trusted and talented and are a great addition to the team.”

Mette Lykke

Too Good to Go

Tackling food waste is a huge part of a sustainable future, and it’s an issue that can be tackled in many ways as our list of LOTI heroes shows. Restaurants are at the front line of food waste and unless you are someone like Doug McMaster at Silo, there’s a good chance that a lot of good food is being thrown out when it isn’t sold. Enter Too Good to Go an app that connects restaurants with customers who can purchase unsold, perfectly good restaurant dishes at a fraction of the price. Not only does it earn the restaurants a bit of extra money, customers get a bargain meal, and the end result has a positive impact on the planet. Now that’s a win-win-win situation.

Alice Williams

Luminary Bakery

Luminary Bakery isn’t just our local bakery, but one of our favourites in all of London… and not just because they make some of the best cinnamon swirls we’ve ever had. The bakery, founded by Alice Williams, is a social enterprise designed to offer opportunities for women from an economic and social disadvantage to build a future for themselves. Encouraging ambition, restoration and second chances, they use baking as a tool to take women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship. Yes, by feasting on cake, traybakes and pastries you are supporting a good cause and they are now open 7 days a week with toasties, soups and cream teas during the day.

Anna Foster

E.L.V. Denim

Apparently, it takes around 4 – 10,000 litres of water to create your average pair of jeans – YIKES. A simple solution would be to buy more second-hand vintage jeans but if that’s not really your thing then meet Anna Foster of East London Vintage (E.L.V.) who’s here to solve your sustainable denim dilemma. Each pair of jeans is made from two old pairs that have been stitched together to make a fresh new pair in a completely new style. Plus no two pairs are ever the same, so you’ll be the only one wearing your unique pair. For even greater customisation there’s even a fitting service available so you can get a pair made to fit you perfectly.

Anshu and Renee


Plastic packaging from takeaway is one of the worst offenders for waste, and as our appetite for Deliveroo and Uber Eats is growing, the problem is only going to get worse. As shown in other areas, reusable packaging is the way forward, and London start up DabbaDrop which specialises in curries delivered in metal tiffin boxes, could be the future of food delivery.

This is curry with a conscience. Sign up for either one or two deliveries a month and you will be sent a regularly changing selection of veg curries, dal, rice and roti all made with fresh, quality ingredients. With your first delivery you’ll also get a reusable tiffin box for an extra £15 charge – each time you get a new delivery you just give back your old (clean!) tiffin box and keep swapping it out. You can even use it as a lunch box in between deliveries.

With no wasteful plastic packaging it’s definitely an idea we like – and one that hopefully more companies will pick up on (SpiceBox in Walthamstow have also launched a similar tiffin box scheme). At the moment Dabba Drop is available in Hackney but will be expanding to Walthamstow and Leytonstone soon.

Becca Dean & Charly Young

The Girls Network

Charly and Becca were secondary school teachers in North West London when they witnessed the multiple barriers facing girls in their classrooms. They were held back by expectations of them as a girl, about what they might want to achieve and how they ought to be behaving, putting them at a double disadvantage when trying to find their place in the world. A lack of female role models was another issue the pair identified and so they decided to set up The Girls Network in 2013. Launching with a one on one mentoring programme for 30 of their students they soon realised that this approach could have a massive impact and began to expand across London and the southeast. They now work with 1,000 girls each year, all of which report feeling an increase in confidence in themselves and in how to get where they want to go in life.

Chloë Stewart

Nibs Etc

nibs etc. is about making delicious snacks from ingredients that would normally be thrown away, to fight food waste, and enable customers to reduce their carbon footprint. nibs etc. was launched as a food and photography blog in 2015, about upcycling leftovers and no waste recipes. Chloe then landed upon a brilliant food waste product – juice pulp – that she began to collect from juice bars to make into granola. From there business has blossomed, winning at the WeWork Creators Awards (twice) and setting up at Borough Market where she now sells crackers, brownies and loaf cakes alongside the granola.

Eliza Rebeiro

Lives not Knives

Founded by Eliza Rebeiro in 2007 when she was just 14, this campaign started as a simple t shirt she had made emblazoned with the words ‘Lives Not Knives’. 12 years later and the issue of knife crime in London is now even more prevalent, making the work of charities such as Eliza’s Lives Not Knives more important than ever. Having grown from that first t-shirt design LNK has since moved towards supporting young people into education, employment and training. LNK works with a broad range of young people up to the age of 24, as well as a great number of local businesses – forging the connection between young people and prospective employers. The charity aims to assist young people by developing their skills, capacities and capabilities to enable them to participate in society as independent, mature and responsible individuals rather than falling into the traps of gangs and violent crime.

Elliss Solomon


ELLISS was founded by Elliss Solomon in London in 2016 after graduating from Central St Martins with a degree in Womenswear Fashion Design. The collections feature everything from t-shirts to swimwear and lingerie, with striking and bold contemporary designs – there’s no playing it safe here. A wholly ethical fashion brand, the brand was born out of a desire to create clothing using conscious design methods and minimal waste. She uses soft, natural fabrics, from organic cotton to hemp and bamboo which are light, and have as low an impact on the earth as possible. Brilliantly, she also shares a building with their manufacturers, allowing the production process to maintain a low carbon footprint.

Emily Brett


OURMALA was founded in 2011 by a Yoga teacher called Emily Brett at Hackney City Farm in East London. Emily had been teaching Yoga to vulnerable refugee and asylum-seeking women at the British Red Cross’ Destitution Centre in Dalston, all of whom had experienced gender-based violence, were at risk of destitution and were either pregnant or had children. With small funding from Big Lottery, Emily offered the often malnourished women Yoga and a hot lunch. The British Wheel of Yoga seed-funded a 12-month pilot called Hackney Yoga Project, covering the costs of travel refunds, without which the women would not have been able to get to class. By the end of the pilot, women were coming to class, referred by organisations including the British Red Cross, Freedom from Torture and Refugee Council. An English class was also added after lunch to help the women with their language skills. Since then, OURMALA has helped over 200 women, has won funding from Big Lottery, Lululemon Athletica, NHS, the British Wheel of Yoga, Inchrye Trust and Vodafone World of Difference and Oak Foundation.

Hannah Carter


Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, so overconsumption of clothes that are worn only a few times before being discarded is a big problem. Hannah Carter’s #LoveNotLandfill campaign is hoping to address the issue by specifically appealing to 16 – 24 year olds with clothing banks, sprayed by female street artist Bambi, placed at key fast fashion purchase points around London to encourage younger fashionistas to think about the life of their clothes once they’re done with them. By putting used clothes in the clothing banks, consumers can ensure that wearable clothes are sold on to people who need them and that man-made fabrics especially (which take years to break down) stay out of landfill. This November, the campaign will be hosting its first pop-up shop at the Truman Brewery, featuring amazing second hand clothes curated by renowned designers. (8-11 November)

Ingrid Caldironi & Bruna Martins

Bulk Market

We all know that unnecessary packaging, single-use plastics and other non-recyclable materials are terrible for the planet both in their manufacture and in their disposal. But avoiding them isn’t always easy unless you really search it out. Enter Ingrid Caldironi’s Bulk Market, a zero waste shop in Hackney where you bring your own containers, fill them up with everything from rice to dog biscuits and head home with zero packaging.

Jana Dowling

The 888 Collective

The 888 Collective is a social enterprise that supports people with mental health issues on their journey back into the workplace through a range of courses and events, and was set up by founder Jana Dowling after her own experiences with mental health issues and work. After being helped back into work by a patient and supportive friend, Jana realised that not everyone in her position would be so lucky and so started The 888 Collective to try to help more people get back to work, as well as to educate the wider public about mental health. Jana now runs self-development and mental health management courses for those with mental health issues looking to get into the work environment, and also for those who are in work looking to better manage their mental health. For those who are looking to get back to work, they get to experience what it’s like to be in the workplace while on the courses, which really helps alleviate anxiety and concerns about what to expect when they get back to work. Jana also runs 88L8’s, events where she takes over a bakery in Dalston and gives shifts to those who have been on the course.

Jenny Costa

Rubies in the Rubble

Rubies in the Rubble make amazing condiments – all out of fruit and veg that is wonky or would have been discarded for some reason. Jenny had the idea after reading an Evening Standard article about bin divers and getting hooked on the topic of food waste. One early morning trip to New Covent Garden Market later and Rubies in the Rubble was born. The nature of fresh produce and the unpredictability of supply & demand means that a lot of perfectly good fruit & veg gets wasted, so being onsite, wooden spoons at the ready, to turn it into chutneys and preserves that day was a great set-up. Nowadays the company has grown beyond these humble beginnings but still has that same principle at heart, although on a much bigger scale. The range now includes everything from the famous banana ketchup so spicy tomato relish and chutneys.

Jess Thompson


Migrateful is a cookery and language school where asylum seekers, refugees and migrants struggling to access employment in the UK due to legal and linguistic barriers, teach their traditional cuisines to the public. Since Migrateful was founded in July 2017 by Jess Thompson, they have run 300 cookery classes with 3000 participants and now have 16 chefs from Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, China, Albania, Eritrea, Gambia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ecuador and Cuba teaching their cuisines regularly. As well as offering a fun way to learn new cuisines from around the world, the social impact of integration and contact with other communities has a huge effect on how people few immigrants. In the current divided country we are living in, that is definitely something to be grateful for.

Lauren Harvey

Albany Mae London

Once you start thinking about plastic waste, you realise it’s everywhere, and hard to avoid. An integral part of products that we take for granted every day, you really have to work hard to eliminate it from your life. One product people might be unwilling to think about changing is the tampon but Albany Mae now have a sustainable swap for that too. Albany Mae make completely plastic-free tampons from organic cotton that are completely biodegradable. If every woman made this simple switch it would save thousands of tons of plastic waste each year so it’s well worth checking out.

Marta Tarallo

Bottega Zero Waste

When it comes to single-use plastics, beauty products and bathroom essentials are some of the worst offenders liquid hand soaps, shower gel, and shampoos often come in packaging that can’t be recycled. Moving away from these products is clearly an essential step to reducing our plastic consumption but of course, we all need to stay clean at the same time! The zero waste beauty movement is gaining traction now as big brands such as L’Oreal pledge to make all their packaging recyclable by 2025 and lush opening its first packaging-free shop in the UK.

However, we wanted to introduce you to a Londoner, Marta Tarallo, who makes beautiful hand made soaps from all natural ingredients with traditional methods. This means she produces no waste when making them and the soap’s packaging is obtained using algae skimmed from the surface of the Venice lagoon interlocked with FSC certified and sustainable wood. How good is that! Marta also runs soap-making workshops so if you’re feeling inspired, you can learn to make your own. With natural materials and no unnecessary chemicals, the soaps are good for your skin too, so you can have a clean body AND a clean conscience.

Megan Adams

Re: Store

Plastic free stores are popping up all over London and one of LOTI’s locals is Re:Store, set up by Megan Adams, who herself made a resolution to use less plastic. Located in Hackney Downs Studios with no single-use packaging on site, you can bring your own containers or buy some in the shop, and fill up on wholefoods, nuts & seeds, herbs & spices, tea, coffee, oils, vinegars and household cleaning products. As well as working with local suppliers like Mission (coffee beans roasted in Clapton) and Ombra pasta (from Bethnal Green), the store also stocks a range of lifestyle products like Elephant Box food containers, Chilly’s water bottles and Georganics dental items. Tupperwares at the ready.

Michelle Morgan


There are many ways to try and break the stigma surrounding mental health and start a conversation around it – pyjamas designed by artists may not be an obvious one but that’s exactly what Michelle Morgan has done. Her own story is a familiar one in the business world: after founding a hugely successful creative agency Livity, she eventually became burnt out and depressed after 16 years at the top. After stepping back for a bit she came up with the idea for PJOYS, getting her artist husband and friends to create designs for pyjamas to launch the brand. She focused on the idea of pyjamas and taking a ‘pyjama day’, which while for some is a calm and relaxing moment, while for others it signifies a difficult day. According to Morgan: “Pjoys uses this symbolism and the joy of art as a way to start a conversation about self-care and make mental health a more accepted topic.” The supply chain for the pyjamas is packed with purpose too; made with sustainable organic cotton, digitally printed and designed locally in London. Since launching the brand, Michelle has had contact with hundreds of people who say they’ve been encouraged to talk about their mental health and she even took to the stage (in pyjamas) at Cannes Lion festival in 2017 to discuss the subject.

Mursal Hedayat


The best way to learn a new language is to practice with a native speaker, but imagine if you could do that and change someone else’s life at the same time? Chatterbox, which was founded by Mursal Hedayat in London, trains and employs refugees to teach language courses, meaning they are able to put their talent to good use whilst helping others out at the same time.

As Mursal explains: “I started Chatterbox because I was a bit fed up with the misperception of refugees as a threat or a burden. Like many other talented members of our community, my mum faced significant challenge finding work that made use of her ample talent. She used her language skills to become a language teacher here in the UK, so I pinched the idea from her and am using it to unleash this huge wealth of talent in the refugee community”.

The beauty of this solution is that it provides meaningful employment for refugees whilst plugging the language skills shortage estimated to cost the UK economy about 3.5% of GDP. Even if learning or teaching isn’t your thing, you can still gift a course to someone who might need one through their website, allowing us all to do our bit.

Sarah Vaughan-Roberts

Forty Hall Vineyards

Founded by Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, Forty Hall is not only a great vineyard based in Enfield, north London, making some superb English wines, but also a social enterprise. As London’s only commercial-scale vineyard they put all their profits back into the project and local community to drive its eco therapy programme. Centred around the idea that being outdoors and active is good for our mental health, Forty Hall provides volunteering opportunities to the local community, particularly those with mental health issues. Volunteers have the opportunity to work in the vineyard or the market garden on scheduled volunteer sessions that run on a weekly basis throughout the year. All volunteers can benefit from the support and guidance of an eco-therapist who attends volunteering sessions and participants can work alone, in pairs, in small groups or in larger teams. Their aim is to improve mental and physical health through working outdoors in a green environment, being socially connected and engaged with horticultural activity and the production of our wines.


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