For Ann Makosinski, being sustainable is all about using what we already have. Whether it’s charging a phone from the excess heat of a steaming cup of coffee, or powering a flashlight with the warmth of your own hands, her innovative ways to satisfy our needs for energy without harming the planet have led her to win her age group in the Google Science Fair in 2013 and become one of Forbes 30 Under 30 along the way. Even during our last minute shoot in London, Makosinski's resourcefulness and striking ability to think on her feet make it seem as though everything has been planned to perfection. After a day of quick outfit changes and makeup touchups in the bathroom, we found a moment to talk about her series of inventions in alternative, sustainable energy and the need to start small when trying to tackle a problem as big as global warming.
Wearing Samantha Pleet Duet Tank
“Growing up on the beautiful West Coast in Victoria, BC taught me that I needed to help take care of the planet and preserve the nature around me,” Makosinski explains. Having started to pursue an interest in science and inventing from a young age, it is clear that she has long known how to best utilise the everyday resources at her disposal. “When I was a kid I wasn’t given many toys, so I would take my hot glue gun and garbage from around the house to piece together ‘inventions.’ They never worked, but the idea of taking the things around me and piecing them together to make something better was something that came naturally to me.”
With a passion for the planet and a natural aptitude for thinking outside of the box, Ann tells us how she naturally gravitated towards the field of alternative, sustainable energy. “I used to wonder why we were harming and polluting our environment to get energy when there were already so many untapped sources of power surrounding us? I became fascinated by alternative energy, which is energy that’s always around us but not necessarily used regularly.”
Even beyond her own work, she is an expert on the link between science and sustainability, and talks enthusiastically about other innovations in this area that she admires. “I’m a big fan of my friend Benjamin Stern’s invention, Nohbo. They’re shampoo balls which are completely dissolvable, no packaging required! Imagine how much plastic packaging will be reduced when they start rolling out." She also has an eclectic collection of people to turn to when in search of inspiration, with Harry Houdini, Elvis Presley, Ann Margret, Nikola Tesla, Basil Rathbone, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers among her idols.
Outside of inventing, her passion for the planet floods her everyday life, and her wardrobe too. “I mainly only thrift/vintage shop for my clothes now. The designs are so much more exciting then the usual fast fashion anyway! I also always carry around a reusable water bottle with me so I don’t need to keep buying new ones.”
Wearing Wray Ferry Jumpsuit
When asked for one tip to help someone looking to reduce their environmental impact, for Ann, it's all about starting small. “Look around you at your community, at your friends and family,” she advises. What’s one little issue you see them creating that’s not helping the environment? If you can solve that problem, it could in turn help many more people around the world. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of ‘solving global warming,’ but instead look for smaller solutions that could snowball and create a bigger effect.”
So, what's next in the pipeline? “I’m writing a couple of books right now,” she tells us excitedly. One is a travel book and the other a children’s adventure book. I’m about to go speak in Argentina at a Y20 event and then I head back to university in September!” As we hop onto the bus, a final shoot on its empty upper deck seems like the perfect end to a day that, true to Ann’s own ethos, has emphasised the importance of using the resources around us.
Wearing Happy Haus Combishort
Interview by Beatrice Murray-Nag for Antibad
Photography by Manon et Jacob