Rachel Carson and Greta Thunberg are household names, but the list of female environmentalists throughout history is long.

Like many fields, the accomplishments of women in environmental work have often been overshadowed by men – particularly in the early years of the environmental movement. Women of color especially have received less recognition for their important work, even when it’s been crucial to our understanding of climate change, conservation, and environmental justice.

On International Women’s Day, we remember and acknowledge the highly accomplished female environmentalists that aren’t usually in the spotlight.

1. Isatou Ceesay (1972 – )

Now known as The Queen of Plastic Recycling in Gambia, Isatou Ceesay began noticing lots of trash – especially plastic – in her village of N’jau in Gambia as she grew older. Without weekly trash collections, piles of waste built up along the streets. Plastic bags began impacting local wildlife and would fill with water after storms, attracting mosquitos that spread disease. People in her community were even burning plastic for cooking fires, which released dangerous toxins into the air. After volunteering with the Peace Corps, Ceesay became even more incentivized to find ways to recycle the waste accumulating in her community. She thought, why not take this waste and find a way to repurpose it?

Ceesay began weaving purses out of plastic waste salvaged from the trash heaps with a group of women. Their choice to gather and work together was quite radical, given that women were expected to stay home and care for their families rather than work. The weaving project grew until Ceesay created the N’jau Recycling and Income Generation Group (now the Women’s Initiative Gambia): a large-scale effort that creates income for women by weaving purses out of plastic bags and other waste. Like many women in Gambia, Ceesay was unable to finish her education, and saw this project as a way to help women acquire skills that will help them earn money. It also encouraged more upcycling and creative problem solving around waste besides just plastic in the community. Ceesay eventually helped open a skill center for women in her village as well. The project continued expanding, and now there are more than 2,000 members across 40 groups.

Read the full article about influential female environmentalists by Paige Bennett at EcoWatch.