Sunday sit-down with… Dr Jenny Davidson, Women in Sustainability Newcastle
With 25 years of experience in sustainability, we caught up with Jenny to find out how we can change our lifestyles to become more eco-friendly.
We live such busy lifestyles that it’s sometimes hard to notice the impact we’re having on the world.
From fast fashion and beauty products made in mass production to simple things like turning lights off, we need to look at how we live and realise how to make those easy, eco-friendly changes to make a difference.
With 25 years of experience in sustainability, we thought there’d be few better to talk to than Dr Jenny Davidson, leader of Women in Sustainably Newcastle hub, to find how we can be more sustainable in our everyday lives.
Tell us what Women in Sustainability (WINS) is all about?
It’s an international network for women who work in sustainability. We run events throughout the year to bring a community of women together. We talk about a range of issues, such as some purely about sustainability and some about the challenges, opportunities and pitfalls of being a woman working in the sector. The sorts of things we’ve covered in Newcastle include the impact of the pandemic on women, ethical investments, sustainable finance, sustainable fashion and lifestyle.
We’ve had speakers who have talked about their careers paths and how they’ve followed their passion in the field. It’s all about sharing our passions and empowering women working in sustainability.
What happens at your events?
We tend to hold four to five events a year and the topics that we cover are shaped by the women who attend. We usually have a panel discussion followed by a conversation with the group about what’s been presented and discussed. Central to all our events is making sure we have the time and space to think about how the discussions apply to us as individuals, in our roles and in the organisations we work in. There’s always time to do some thinking and making sense of it yourself and then to have a conversation with other women who have shared experiences or have suggestions.
We always have an opportunity to share a shout out, too. So, if there’s anything that you’re involved in that you would like support with, if you’ve got an idea for something and you want to test it out, or if you’re looking to make connections in a particular sector, there’s no judgement here and there’s no such thing as a daft question.
Who can get involved?
You don’t have to have sustainability in your job title to join us. It tends to be professional women who feel pretty passionate about sustainability who come along. We’ve got a range of different sectors and organisations that are represented: big companies, small companies, charities, some freelancers and we have a few students who come along who are looking to move into jobs in the sector, so they come to connect with employers at our events.
What would your advice be on being more sustainable in our daily lives?
I think stopping to think about what we’re consuming and how we’re consuming it— so thinking about the products we’re buying and how they came to us.
It can feel overwhelming trying to be more sustainable, so my advice would be to start small and with things that you can control directly; achievable things that are core to our day-to-day activities. These might include how and where we buy our groceries or clothes, or the choices that we’re making around transport. I think we also need to be quite hopeful that we can have an impact even by starting small.
How sustainable is Newcastle as a city?
There are lots of things that make Newcastle a sustainable city. For example, our hospital trust and our university were some of the first organisations to declare a climate emergency. We’re seeing things like renewables sitting at the core of economic development in the region. From the women that come to WINS, we hear about all sorts of great work going on in Newcastle and beyond, ranging from coastal conservation projects and environmental compliance to sustainable fashion and ethical investment funds.
But there’s always more we could be doing. What I’d like to see in Newcastle is for this agenda to be integrated. I think it’s still slightly separate from some of the core development and economic decisions that are going on. And, of course, I’d love to see the amplification of women’s voices in some of those key conversations.