Hi, I’m Oakley and I love garbage! Believe it or not, I was not born this way. I started my career in chemical engineering with BASF where I learned exactly how everyday “stuff” is made. I saw the energy, water and raw materials that go into making every day things like shoes, detergents, paint, you name it! It was through this experience that I realized how silly it is to simply throw resources away in the landfill. So I became obsessed with the concept of circular economy. I’m grateful to have found my dream job as Director of Circular Economy with Smart Waste where I help companies reduce their landfill waste with the latest in waste tracking technologies and education. I also founded a company, Level Up Planet, where I educate individuals about landfill free decluttering through short audio courses. Stuff causes stress: my goal is to reduce stress in your life and on the planet! Finally, I co-host a podcast on the topic of waste called “What the hell do I do with this?”
What is a fun fact about you?
I love rock climbing, the outdoors, and my little dog too! (Her name is Ginger and she is a dachshund mix)
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
Climate change has or will affect every living creature and ecosystem on the planet. What is inspiring and scary is that within all of our lifetimes, we will discover if our efforts to mitigate climate change was enough to ensure a comfortable habitation for humans on planet earth… or not. The time is now. I believe these efforts require an entirely new paradigm shift in thinking. We have to think entirely differently than we do now about energy, about humanitarian efforts, about consumption… in order to truly create a sustainable planet. The key principle to circular economy is creating an economy which is inherently regenerative for the planet. We need entirely new ways of thinking to achieve this.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I am so inspired by the new technologies which are emerging in the circular economy space. For instance, I see major advancements in plastic recycling technologies, alternative plastic materials, machine learning for recycling sorting, new technologies for reparability and robustness of things such as smart phones, greater access to second hand markets. I see the plastic industry in particular completely transformed in the next 10 years. This will look like continued use of plastics where it is needed and robust infrastructure to keep it out of the environment as well as infrastructure to promote reusable and returnable packaging.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
People ask me all the time if individual action really makes a difference. I can tell you undoubtedly, yes it does!!
Why? Because when we make a change in our lives, those around us are inspired as well. Because we are living based on our principles. If doing something “for the planet” is too abstract, then do it for yourself because you believe in it. I tell people to find the thing that gives them a spark or passion. This can be animal rights or clean energy or ocean clean ups or electric vehicles or garbage! Find the climate change topic that sparks passion for you and follow that… because this is the greatest contribution we can make!
Green.Org is a television show, podcast, social media, and news platform, hosted by Dylan Welch, that highlights climate change scientists, renewable energy experts, and clean tech entrepreneurs by giving them a voice in the mainstream media. The Green podcast highlights leading experts in cleantech, sustainability, media, finance, and real estate. Tune in and subscribe to the podcast on Apple or Spotify to listen to interviews with leading cleantech and sustainable experts. If you are interested in being featured on Green, click HERE.