YES Alumni

Helen Townsend

CEO & Founder of The Rubbish Whisperer Limited

Helen Townsend The Rubbish Whisperer

Helen is the CEO & Founder of The Rubbish Whisperer Limited, but her entrepreneurial journey started in 1997 with her YES Company ‘Zingaro Boxer Shorts’. She founded The Rubbish Whisperer Limited in 2014 to provide practical solutions for people wanting to reduce their plastic consumption. But the organisation’s story began in 2009. Helen was then living and working in Nepal and was horrified at the amount of unprocessed rubbish littering an otherwise beautiful country. Upon returning to New Zealand, it was Helen’s resolve to combat that problem.


The Rubbish Whisperer Limited specialises in eco-friendly products made locally, and is now a market leader in innovative products to reduce plastic waste, measuring its success against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Helen sees the entrepreneurial ecosystem as collaborative rather than competitive, and supports the professional development of her staff and contractors. Moreover, she encourages her team to use skills learned at The Rubbish Whisperer Limited, and apply them further afield, even in starting their own for-good enterprises.


In conjunction with a collaborative business approach, The Rubbish Whisperer Limited works hard to educate the community on problems caused by plastic and helps them to solve these problems, creating more conscious consumers in doing so. The Rubbish Whisperer Limited demonstrates how business and environment can co-exist, and has paved the way for other companies to do the same.