RIYADH: Youmna Naufal, executive director of the Lebanese Student Society, asked Adrian Grenier, actor, filmmaker, social advocate and musician, about how he balances a rich portfolio of mixed roles and projects.
“I have a big appetite,” Grenier said at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. “I have big eyes for the world. I get excited about a lot of different things ... I want to be diversified.”
Grenier talked about how technology is making the world smaller and more connected.
He thinks that it is important to have a depth of knowledge of a particular skill and go very deep on particular things, but at the same time to have casual knowledge about a lot of different things.
“Travel is more easily available to people and you want to be able to have a working knowledge of a lot of different aspects so that you can comment and you can participate meaningfully with all the people you’re going to encounter,” he said.
Grenier has had a hand in many different projects, from working for the environment, being the first social advocate for Dell computers to protecting the ocean. He said that people could do many different things and touch many different lives. “You have to, it’s almost a necessity at this point,” he said.
One part of his career involved setting up the Lonely Whale Foundation to educate and raise awareness to inspire change, because “today’s children are tomorrow’s environmental leaders.”
Grenier believes that a lot of things can be done to make that change — people need as many solutions as there are humans — “we need 8 billion solutions, and then all the different solutions that each individual comes to.”
He said that everybody knows what is needed in their local community, and what is needed individually and personally. Therefore, it is important that people bring their own creativity to the issue. “Find ways that you can participate and then share those ways with your community. I have a lot of things that I personally do. One thing is starting to reduce plastic straws on all different fronts.”
At Lonely Whale his target is to eliminate 20 billion plastic straws from the waste stream.
Grenier said that 10 billion tons of plastic is going into the ocean every year, which is a huge problem to tackle.
Lonely Whale decided to break the problem down to one single unit of measure, he said. “One single piece of plastic and the plastic straw became that symbolic unit … we could start to actually see a difference.”
He said that this was not easy as 500 million plastic straws are used every day.
Grenier also introduced the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, which this year drew 300 young people between the ages of eight and 18 from 30 countries around the world.
“We bring them together in a bootcamp-style experience over three days so that they can learn about plastics, the ocean, and how they can go back to their communities and start implementing change locally.”
Grenier gave a few pieces of advice throughout the session — especially to millennials. One was that they should take care of themselves, “so that you can stay committed to the task at hand and really accomplish your goals. It can’t be something that you do and then give up … So, take care of your health, take care of your body, your mind, and workout.”
He also advised people to collaborate. “Collaboration is a big part of what I do. I like to consider myself a master collaborator ... looking outside of your own self ... and being compassionate for other ideas.”
“Through new ideas you learn and synthesize both those perspectives into new perspectives. So, let’s do it together,” he said.