We’re thrilled to introduce you to Jack O'Grady, My Green Lab's Sustainability Programme Manager! Jack began his career in the Quality Control laboratories at PepsiCo and always took notice of the amount of plastic waste being used, which inspired him to learn more about laboratory sustainability, initially becoming a My Green Lab Ambassador. He has since joined the My Green Lab team and his work helps assist and support laboratories globally in becoming more sustainable.
Learn more about Jack, his interests, and his sustainability journey below!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself & your background:
I’m from a small town, Newcastle West, located in Co. Limerick, Ireland. My father is from Newcastle West originally but met my mother in Australia. She is of Lebanese heritage, born in Sydney and somehow or another, he managed to convince her to move from the sunny and warm climate of Sydney to the wet and cloudy climate of Ireland. When the sun does shine here in Ireland, there’s no better place in the world. Whilst Newcastle West will always be my home, I have been living in Cork City for the past number of years now, both as a result of university and work. Cork is a fantastic city with great pubs, restaurants, and beautiful countryside nearby. I would encourage anyone who may read this and looking to come to Ireland to absolutely nail down Cork, and West Cork in particular, on your bucket list.
I enjoy being as active and as busy as I can when I have time off, can’t beat a hike in the Irish countryside or getting in a few holes of golf. I love nothing more than traveling both home and abroad with my girlfriend Sinead. I studied Nutrition and Health Science in Cork Institute of Technology, graduating in 2019. Since graduating, I have worked within the Quality Control laboratories of PepsiCo in Cork between 2019 to 2021. In March of 2021, I departed PepsiCo to join Regeneron as a QC Analyst within the Biochemistry department before the opportunity to join My Green Lab came at the beginning of this year. The opportunity to work for My Green Lab was one that I simply could not refuse and I am honored to work for an organization such as My Green Lab.
What is your role at My Green Lab?
I am the Sustainability Programme Manager, operating, naturally enough, within the programmes team here at My Green Lab. The My Green Lab Certification Program is the flagship programme of our operations here at My Green Lab. Both I and the team work with laboratories globally, across both corporations and academia, to support and assist in those laboratories creating and maintaining a culture of sustainability. Here at My Green Lab, we are guided by our mission of building a culture of sustainability in science, to transform the scientific industry into a global leader on environmental sustainability. With over 900 laboratories globally thus far, and many more laboratories globally joining the My Green Lab community all the time, we are confident and certain of creating and maintaining this global culture of sustainability within science.
My day to day operations largely revolve around providing on-hand support and assistance to the laboratories who are undertaking the certification programme with us. Along with this, both the team and I are constantly researching the most up to date information, data and resources to both assist our laboratories within the certification programme, and to also revise our certification periodically to ensure it is up to date with current sustainability practices. I attend conferences, round-table discussions and panel discussions (largely virtual, of course) to communicate and discuss the importance of laboratory sustainability, along with meeting fellow collaborators and individuals within the sustainability community. With the My Green Lab Certification Program recognized by the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign as a key indicator of progress towards a zero-carbon world, I am very proud to be working for a team of people that are pulling in the same direction to help achieve this future for us all.
What inspires you to do the kind of work you do?
What first triggered my interest and inspired me to work in this field of laboratory sustainability was simply through mere observation of current practices undertaken in the laboratories I’ve worked within in the past. Naturally, when we think of sustainability and the environment, we think of the polar bears, the melting ice caps, carbon emissions and plastic waste in our environment and oceans. Laboratory sustainability was simply something that was not within my consciousness. Whilst I always took notice of the amount of plastic waste and the single-use nature of laboratory consumables, the means to combat this nature of laboratory work and the importance behind doing so, I was simply unaware.
Since first discovering My Green Lab back in early 2020, the work and research that they had done up to that point, I was quite simply stunned at the scope for improvement for sustainable practices in our laboratories, and the justification behind doing so. It was this that first largely triggered my interest in sustainability generally, and more specifically, laboratory sustainability, given my background of education and previous employment. The world is warming, sea levels are rising and you cannot listen to or watch the news without dire warnings of what lays ahead for our world if we do not act now. The facts are stark and the evidence for changing our behavior for a more sustainable world, across multiple factions in our society, is over-whelming. I wish to play my part, no matter how big or small, in contributing to a better, more sustainable world. Working towards this goal in my role at My Green Lab, alongside working with our team, inspires me to do what I do.
What are your personal 2022 sustainability goals?
On a personal level, my girlfriend and I are hoping to build a house in the next while. With this, we intend to future proof the house and make it as sustainable as possible. Between energy & heat retention, external and internal insulation and solar panels, we hope to keep our emissions of the house as low as possible for many years into the future. Whilst not maybe a goal for 2022 as such, but when it comes to buying a new car in time to come, with the ever-improving technology surrounding electric cars, this is something that I will be absolutely pursuing when the time comes to make a change.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I’ve been back playing a small bit of golf when time, and mostly the Irish weather, allows. I used to play more golf when I was younger so trying to get back into the swing of it (please excuse the lame pun). I enjoy going on hikes, again, when the weather allows and we have a spot of dry and sunny weather. The Irish countryside, especially along the West coast of Ireland, along the Wild Atlantic Way, is truly breath-taking. In fairness, I’ve given the Irish weather a bit of a hard time above but even in the rain, the Irish scenery can be spectacular.
I enjoy catching up with people that mean the most to me, whether it be for a coffee, bite to eat, a drink or a walk around a park. If anything positive has come out of Covid, of which there is little, but for me it just showed how important it is to make time for those in your life so I do enjoy meeting people regularly to do something of some sort. I enjoy reading in my spare time and have been attempting to learn a language in recent times, German particularly as I learned German in school.
What are your favorite books / movies?
I made a point during the lockdowns to read some classic literary novels. For example, I read Dracula over one of the lockdowns, as well as some of Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway’s novels over lockdown, of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have since defaulted back to my usual genre of thriller / crime of reading Michael Connelly, John Grisham, and James Patterson novels. I must re-attempt Stephan Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ as I started this too over one of the lockdowns but never learned physics in school so reading the same paragraph numerous times to understand what he was trying to convey did become challenging. Nonetheless, what I did retain from it, it lent itself to be a simply incredible read.
Favorite movies would include the Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, with Green Book as a recent favorite. Anything with Tom Hanks or Denzel Washington are up there, as well.
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