Get to Know Isaac Murray

Get to know …. Isaac Murray, one of the newest members of 11th Hour Racing Team. Isaac has been brought onboard (excuse the pun!) to grow the success of The Sustainability Toolbox – one of the legacy projects the team has developed to help all organizations, whatever the size, sector or industry to implement its own sustainability program.
Position with team: The Toolbox Community Manager
Hometown:  Manchester, United Kingdom
Current residence Barcelona, Spain
Favorite piece of advice Many a mickle, makes a muckle – It’s a Scottish phrase that has assimilated into Jamaican culture. It means many small things can add up to something big.
Q: What does sustainability mean to you?

I think ‘sustainability’ in itself is a bit of a lost phrase really. We need to transform our systems into more regenerative ways of thinking. Sustainability indicates we can continue as we are but our team knows we can do better than that. We’ve seen first hand, we can change the way we work, the way we live, change the way our supply chains work, change the way our business works. We have the power to create a world where benefits aren’t just for profit, they’re for people and for the planet, as well. A new, alternative type of wealth. Imagine if every action is considered in that sense and not just with financial return on investment in mind. That’s what sustainability means to me – a necessary and existential change.

Q: Biggest misconception about sustainability?

It’s not environmentalists’ way of ‘making things nicer’. It’s actual action that we have to take to change the way we do things, the way we do most things. Adaptation and mitigation of climate impacts on an individual level can make our world better, however there is only so much collective action to be made before companies and larger businesses need to harness this vision and lead the charge. The hardest part isn’t tangibly changing supply chains or eliminating single-use plastic for example, it’s challenging perceptions and changing minds and behaviours.

Q: You’ve chosen a career is driving change which isn’t always easy, what has inspired you to take this on?

I chose to do geography at university because I wanted to learn about different cultures and different places around the world. I’m from quite a mixed race and rather diverse family. My father’s family are from Jamaica (they came over to the UK in the Windrush) and my mother’s family are from a small farm in Cheshire. So two very different places. So, as as I went through my geography degree, I started learning more about climate change. By exploring the tipping points it became obvious how that’s impacted by culture, you know, how different countries live. And then I read a paper called ‘Deep Adaptation’ by Jem Bendell which really brought into focus the gravity of climate change and what can and will happen without any action.

So for me it’s never been about ‘driving change’ unnecessarily. It’s the consideration and understanding of the breakdown of our ecological systems as a whole and what we can do as a collective (humans) to turn the dial a few degrees for a completely different outcome.

Q: How did you become involved with 11th Hour Racing Team?

I was working for a solar energy company and my contract came to an end. When I saw this role on LinkedIn I thought, this sounds unusual and interesting (which it is!). I’ve been a keen runner for a long time but more of a lover of the arts over sport. However, since being with the team I’ve really realized the interconnections and interdependencies of sport and culture. The power of sport can influence society in every aspect.

The more I read, the more I loved hearing about the tam. I hadn’t stepped foot on a sailing boat until I went on Mālama. So that was a very new experience for me. It turns out I get seasick but that doesn’t stop me loving my job and it gives me more respect for the crew and what they go through!

Q: What inspires you the most about your role?

So what inspires me most is I’m realizing more than ever how much sport can play a huge role in changing behaviours. We touched on how difficult this can be earlier and I believe in the power of sport and the way it brings people together in advocating for climate action.

It’s important to acknowledge the carbon outputs that sports have because of their temporary nature. Sporting events are transient and often move from location to location. Travel to and from these events can be carbon intensive but also there’s a lot of waste. There’s a lot of materials that need to be bought in from different locations or moved from one location to another. So what inspires me is helping people have those experiences that they love, just without having a negative impact. Living sustainably doesn’t mean ‘less’, it actually means ‘more’. It’s just about being smart.

Q: Have you seen impact since joining the team?

My role is outward-facing, I help others monitor and deal with their impact and I see the journey these organizations are on so I can see the roadmap to success but like with all things, real change will take time.

The Toolbox there to help other organizations become more sustainable, reducing and repairing their impacts on the environment, whilst bolstering their social connections and creating a legacy. And that takes time. That takes a lot of time. I’ve only been with the team for three months and each organization I work with is on a separate part of their journey, but I can definitely see how the impacts will be made.

In my opinion, having such a variety of organizations come to us to use the toolbox and be open enough to monitor impacts and want to make a change… I consider that to be impact in itself.

Q: People will often say our sailors are ‘on the front line’ of climate change, witnessing first hand the plastic pollution, temperature changes, rogue weather patterns etc. What’s been the most interesting thing you have heard the 11th Hour Racing Team sailors talk about?

I’m not a sailor but I understand the importance of, and the nature of competition. I tend to work remotely and I’m not always around the sailors but one story has stayed with me. When I first met Si Fi (Simon Fisher) he told me a story about how the boat had broken a piece off the bow in a remote location during the last Ocean Race and debris was left in the sea. Despite the fact the team were still in race mode, they turned around to retrieve it. So not only did they TURN THE WHOLE BOAT AROUND they also added extra weight onboard during a critical time of racing. They didn’t need to do that, they could have just left it there but they didn’t. For me, that is the definition of walking the walk, not just talking the talk. It’s what this team is about.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who makes little or no effort to live a sustainable lifestyle? What’s the first step make small incremental changes?

Do. Not. Beat. Yourself. Up. About. It.

No one is perfect. It’s not a competition to become ‘the most’ sustainable, it’s just about doing what you can. We all live different lives. We all have varying impacts. But I’d say first, take the time to look at your impacts. Where might you be making most impact? Do you eat beef every night? Do you drive every day? What what are the ways that you make the most impact and then think about slowly reducing it.

It’s simply about being self-aware. There’s no end goal as such. No one can be 100% sustainable. We just need to keep monitoring, keep improving and keep innovating.

Again, I believe too much pressure is put on the individuals on this topic. Yes, we all play a part but the big change will happen with organizations on a global scale.

So the advice I would give to someone is, make the changes in your lifestyle that you can identify will leave less impact in your day-to-day life. But also consider what changes can you make at work. That’s usually where most of your activity happens. So think about how your company/organization/business can do better. And just remember – The Toolbox is here to help!

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