Say hello to My Green Lab Ambassador and QC Analyst at Regeneron Jack O'Grady! Born and raised in Ireland, Jack began his sustainability journey after noticing the amount of plastic waste his laboratory was discarding, along with the inefficient amount of water and energy in use. Since then, he has helped launch a Green Teams at his former organization, and is a proud advocate of the My Green Lab Ambassador Program.
"When conducting my own research and reading laboratory sustainability initiatives and programs that have been undertaken, the Ambassador Program is always a guide I refer back to constantly as the answer to my questions may have been under my nose from the very beginning. From this perspective, the My Green Lab Ambassador Program has enriched my sustainability journey just by simply providing a framework to operate within and to have contact with fellow ambassadors who are all pulling in the same direction as I," says Jack.
Read on to learn more about Jack and his sustainability journey below!
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
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, wonderful climate of Sydney to the wet, occasionally dreary and bleak climate of Ireland (Ireland would be lovely if we could just put a roof on it!). 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 wonderful city with fantastic pubs, restaurants, and beautiful countryside nearby and 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. I studied Nutrition and Health Science in Cork Institute of Technology, graduating in 2019. Since graduating, I have worked within the Quality laboratories of PepsiCo in Cork, before moving to the Biochemistry department of Regeneron as a QC Analyst in March of this year.
What drives you to be more sustainable in the laboratory?
My interest in laboratory sustainability began innocuously enough. During my time within PepsiCo, I took notice of the amount of plastic waste we were discarding in our laboratories on both a daily and weekly basis. I conducted some research and discovered that in our labs, we were generating an awful amount of waste, not segregating our waste correctly and were being unbelievably inefficient with both our water and energy usage. Being the person I am, I wanted to determine if we could improve upon our sustainability efforts within the laboratories. Naturally enough, I was delighted to discover the organization My Green Lab had all the resources and tools I craved for improving our sustainability efforts in PepsiCo. With the assistance of My Green Lab, I established a European Green Team for PepsiCo, where the Green Team are currently pursuing a Green Lab Certification with My Green Lab.
I have always being a very environmentally conscious person and how what I may be doing day to day could impact upon the local environment. Needless to say, I was utterly shocked to discover the detrimental environmental impact that laboratories, across multiple factions and institutions, are having upon both our local and global environment. Ultimately, what motivates me to be more sustainable in the laboratory is that I am not content with the knock-on effects and impacts our work in laboratories globally are having upon our planet. We can and must do better, for our own sake and for the generations to follow. The IPCC Climate Change report published recently paints a rather grim picture for the future of our plant and of all humankind if we do not take decisive and drastic actions now. It is this sense of urgency that drives me to make a difference.
What is the most interesting thing you learned while becoming a My Green Lab Ambassador?
That I am not alone, that there exists a wonderful community of fellow scientists and environmentalists at heart who are all seeking to pull together and play their part in bringing a beneficial change to our laboratories and our work. The most interesting thing that I have learned since becoming a My Green Lab Ambassador is that there-in lies a community of people who are bursting with brilliant initiatives and ideas to reduce the impact of laboratories upon the environment. It would have been quite naive of me to believe that I was the only person in Ireland who may have conceived the notion of making laboratories more environmentally sustainable. I was more than pleasantly surprised however to discover that this was gladly not the case. It is a fantastic resource to have available to you, to discuss ideas and draw inspiration from fellow My Green Lab Ambassadors to continue in this endeavor of ours. The My Green Lab Ambassador Program is something I would encourage all who have any interest in laboratory sustainability and sustainability generally, to become a member of, you will not regret it. I am incredibly proud to be a My Green Lab Ambassador.
How has the My Green Lab Ambassador Program enriched your sustainability journey?
The recordings, white papers, and contributions that have been uploaded to the My Green Lab Ambassador Program has provided me with fresh perspectives on a variety of different areas of laboratory sustainability. For example, I may be researching an alternative to dry ice usage in a laboratory, only to find that a fellow ambassador has provided an insightful and fantastic research article outlining some keys areas of potential improvement with respect to dry ice alternatives. Such a paper in this case could provide me with a reference point to further delve into researching all there is to know on dry ice alternatives. When conducting my own research and reading laboratory sustainability initiatives and programs that have been undertaken, the Ambassador Program is always a guide I refer back to constantly as the answer to my questions may have been under my nose from the very beginning. From this perspective, the My Green Lab Ambassador Program has enriched my sustainability journey just by simply providing a framework to operate within and to have contact with fellow ambassadors who are all pulling in the same direction as I.
What are your 2021 sustainability goals?
For the remainder of 2021 and beyond, my sustainability goals are to continue to fight the good fight, to continue to promote and discuss with others in the scientific community the importance of laboratory sustainability and the programs that My Green Lab offer to corporations and institutions alike. Time is very much of the essence. We need to invest in a more sustainable future if we are to have any chance of keeping in line with the Paris Agreement targets of curbing rising global temperatures to below 1.5°C. It is the responsibility of all of us to endeavor and persist tirelessly in this pursuit, our very future depends on it.
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