Johnian magazine issue 45
Olivia Green: in a nutshell
Recognised for her contribution to the planet as one of edie’s 30 Under 30 class of 2019 – a group of young sustainability and energy professionals ‘who have already achieved great things or are showing fantastic promise’ – Olivia shares with us a glimpse into her personal and professional life, past and present.
I wasn’t sure about going to Cambridge. My large comprehensive school didn’t feel like good preparation and the University wasn’t particularly revered by students there. When I did decide to apply, though, it was easy to choose John’s: the undergraduates at the open day were very friendly and reassuring, and the College’s large size felt familiar and comforting.
When I started my degree in Natural Sciences (Biological), I was aiming to go into physiology. However, my interests were soon piqued by the evolution and behaviour module in my first year. I hadn’t been exposed to this area of science at school, and after further environmental, ecological and climate-based modules I knew that I wanted to pursue my career in sustainability.
I learnt loads in my first job at Ecosurety – both about legal recycling requirements and producer responsibility regulations and about having a job and living in the real world. However, my role was very niche, and after three years I was ready for a new challenge.
Since securing the position of Wessex Water Sustainability Adviser I have been working on a huge range of environmental and social sustainability issues, and I’m looking forward to being a part of the water industry becoming net-zero carbon emitting by 2030.
We are in the midst of a climate crisis, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, which is leading to a biodiversity crisis and likely numerous social conflict crises. Very few people remain in denial and, to be honest, we don’t have time to waste on convincing them. There is so much that everyone can do to help the planet, starting with caring about the cause and showing others that you care. Praise, encouragement and leading by example are much more effective than prescribing to people what they should do.
We should make as many changes as we can and help others rather than criticising them. This could be reducing meat and dairy consumption in our diet, choosing alternative transport options, buying local produce or thinking more carefully which businesses you spend money on. Nobody can be perfect, but everyone can make a difference. If we see that we are all in this together, then the small, short-term sacrifices will seem more bearable when weighed against protecting the planet for future generations.
I’m lucky to have lived in Bath with my partner Cameron since graduating. It’s a great city. Last year we adopted our rescue puppy, Sprout, and now we spend lots of time walking around the local countryside with her. I also play squash for the Bath Lansdown Ladies team in the local league.
We should make as many changes as we can and help others rather than criticising them
It was a really nice compliment to be listed in the edie’s 30 Under 30 class of 2019. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know this impressive group of people, with us feeding off each other’s passions.
My major commitment outside work is called Business4Life, which is a volunteer scheme run by Wessex Water fundraising for the industry charity WaterAid. A group of 11 of us have 15 months to raise £48,000 for the charity by organising events and completing personal challenges. In September Cameron and I did a ‘Walk for Water’ of 100,000 steps (over 75 km) in 24 hours.
If I could tell my 16-year-old self one thing, it would be to not worry so much about the future. We should enjoy what we do now and do what makes us happy and the rest will sort itself out. Also I would tell her not to worry about getting things wrong – that is how we learn and it normally doesn’t matter too much!
Olivia is a Wessex Water Sustainability Adviser and has been recognised for her contribution to the planet as one of edie’s 30 Under 30 class of 2019.