|We’re sitting down with industry leaders, innovators and environmentalists to discuss what sustainability looks like today, and where it’s headed. For our inaugural edition of this column, we sat down for a chat with Okeanos Scientific Advisory Board member, environmentalist, athlete, entrepreneur, and Sustainability Officer at Loyola Marymount, Ian Mckeown.
What is the role of a Campus Sustainability Officer? What are you currently working on?
My role is creating a culture of environmental awareness, increasing education both on campus and off through events research and partnerships, and operationally to save money while benefiting the planet. I am working to push the boundaries through the sustainability program, so Loyola Marymount can be a worldwide beacon of carbon neutrality, social responsibility, and positivity.
Outside of my work at Loyola , I am also heavily involved in consulting in the energy space with projects around large scale solar, battery storage, car charging, and lighting efficiency.
How did your love of the outdoors draw you toward a career in environmentalism?
Growing up I was always drawn to the natural world, especially outdoor sports, and any kind of adventure in nature. I started to see the places where I mountain biked and hiked changing – becoming housing developments, and the environment at large changing around me through pollution. I wanted to be a solution, and to inspire others to get outside and protect our natural playgrounds.Science validated the observations I had that the world was changing, and we as humans were both the anthropogenic solution and the problem. Volunteering and traveling, I saw how important nature was to people’s physical health, mental health, livelihood, and community. It was a progression that became so strong that I turned down an opportunity to attend medical school to continue to focus on sustainability.
Did going to school in Miami affect how you looked at the planet?
I was a kiteboarder, and volunteered in my spare time, taking at-risk youth into the ocean. I was able to see the change in my immediate environment. The University of Miami Ecosystem Science and Policy program armed me with the understanding and tools to communicate science for both public and policy all while understanding the fundamentals behind it through observation, experimentation, and the scientific method.
What does the future of sustainability look like?
Sustainability will be centered around a world that is a blend of mindful convenience. In the philosophical sense, Newtons Law applies. Every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction…so if you look at life through this lens, everything from driving your car to using electricity has an eco-impact on the other side. In the future, we’ll be looking beyond carbon neutrality to carbon negativity. Are you leaving a net benefit on the world? This will come at a cost on some items but those who can afford incremental cost increase will benefit others. I think progressive and retroactive regenerative technologies will pave the way.
March 18th was Global Recycling Day. Is there anything you think we should know about plastic pollution and the state of our current recycling system?
Recycling is not what we think it is. The system is broken. Did you know that sometimes it takes more energy to use something that is recycled? We need to focus completely on reduction and focus on what we can’t change that will remain single use. Products of the future should be degradable, and if they cannot be recycled, items should be built to be reused, to replace as many single use items as possible.
Based on everything you know, what about Okeanos’ mission and Made From Stone technology attracted you to the company?
Okeanos has identified a real problem that some single use plastics will never go away from the environment and peoples habits , people wont change habits quickly, governments wont change fast enough, we have to take action, technology can do this I think Okeanos will work beautifully in conjunction or may even make its own reusable items and than follow up with single use that can degrade and eliminates the harm.
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