Dame Ellen MacArthur has worked through her influential namesake foundation with governments and businesses across industries to argue for the implementation of a circular economy, in which resources are designed for multiple life cycles, instead of being simply disposed of after use.
Raised in Derbyshire, UK, MacArthur became interested in sailing when she was young and in 2005 made history on the open seas by becoming the fastest person to ever sail solo, non-stop, around the world in just over 70 days.
After her retirement from professional sailing in 2010, MacArthur launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a charity that focuses on a transition to a circular economy. The foundation works in areas including education, business and fashion, emerging as a thought leader and helping to establish a circular economy on the international agenda. The foundation works with H&M, Nike and Google among others to help develop circular business initiatives. In 2017, MacArthur partnered with Stella McCartney to host the launch of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation report “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future.”
“There is a way whereby we can run our global economy in a restorative and regenerative way. We can switch from linear to circular and we can build it so it really can run in the long term,” she said at VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers.
MacArthur was awarded the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2005 and appointed a Knight (Chevalier) of the French Legion of Honour in recognition of her achievements in 2008.