Earth Week: Day 5 – Green Ideas From the OWC Team

earth day logo

Today marks the end of a busy Earth Week here at OWC. We’ve spent the past several days hitting topics such as the history of Earth Day, OWC’s past and current environmental initiatives, and green creative projects we support. As a staff employee, I can vouch for the commitment OWC places on the environment and sustainability. In fact, it is something that attracted me to the company in the first place – and I’m not the only one, as you will see.

So, for this final day, we thought it would be fun to turn things around and ask our OWC Team Members, and a few of the professional creators we partner with, to tell us how they try and be “Earth-friendly.”


Our Green Creatives

We begin with quotes from a few of our environmentally conscious creative partners.

Transparent Jam in the Van Logo

“Jam in the Van—the mobile solar-powered recording studio and YouTube channel—installed solar panels on the roof of their RV so that we can record live music sessions across the country in remote locations without plugging into shore power.”
– Jack Higgins, Jam in the Van

“At Recording Studio Rockstars and The Toy Box Studio, I like to be earth-friendly be eating mostly raw vegan, recycling plastics, metal, and paper as much as possible, and taking cloth bags with me to the grocery store. When I do have some older plastic bags laying around the house I reuse them multiple times by carrying my lunch across the yard down to the studio with me each day, and then bringing them back up to the house to do it all over again!”
– Lij Shaw, Nashville-based producer at Toy Box Studios and host of Recording Studio Rockstars podcast

“We are a plastic-free home and green cleaning only by using dōTTERA natural products that don’t harm the Earth.”
– Andy Vargas, Santana lead singer, head of Andy Vargas Foundation

Our wonderful OWC RADiO podcast host, Cirina Catania, broadens the scope a little bit by sharing some of her inspirational “Green Quarantine” with us.

“Earth Day, to me, brings to mind more than thoughts of the climate, conquering pollution and saving the physical Earth. What drives me are the people, the flora, fauna, and energy that travels our beautiful planet. Being able to tell stories that bring people together is so important. If people prosper, find health and joy, they will do whatever is necessary to protect the environment around them.”

“OWC has been a HUGE inspiration to me. I have solar at my house now. In this time of quarantine, sequestered alone as I work from home (WFH)—my kids visit but stay in the yard—I am very appreciative of the farmers and ranchers who deliver food to me and I’m nurturing my own small garden started from seed in the house, drying herbs, fruits and veggies, squeezing fresh juice, cooking and freezing meals, and I have delicious filtered water!”

“Abundance can be defined in many different ways and I am lucky to have a roof over my head, good food to eat (including Amish Friendship bread started from scratch), and clean water to drink, and most importantly, everyone in the family is healthy!”

– Cirina Catania, OWC RADiO podcast host


Our Green Team

And last, but not least (I hate that saying, so I’m not sure why I’m simply not deleting it right now), we come to the employees of OWC. As mentioned in a previous Earth Week post, OWC was founded on the premise of “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” when CEO and Founder, Larry O’Connor began re-inking printer ribbons from his garage at the ripe old age of 15. Championing environmental awareness and practices tends to attract like-minded folks, as you will see from these OWC Team Members when asked how they practice the three R’s: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

“Prior to the pandemic, I could reuse bags for shopping to reduce plastic waste. I try very hard to go out of my way to recycle correctly because I believe that even small things make a difference.”

– Derek Johnson, Customer Experience Representative

“Recycle Garbage. Use Energy saving light bulbs in every room. Donate what I can when I can. Use reusable bags when I can. Because of the virus, stores don’t let you use your bags. Bring the bags back to the store and recycle them too. Plant when I can, where I can – usually at my parents because I don’t have the ability at my apartment. Reuse plastic that I can, such as cool whip containers or Pickle Jars to store grease and throw away once filled.”

– Shirie Henquinet, RMA Technician

“I recycle everything possible I can. When going on hikes my kids and I pick up trash as we go along and I have instilled this in them since a young age.”

– Melissa Wilhoit, Customer Experience Representative

“By determining need vs want, we practice 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle… but first, refuse. If you don’t need or value something, refuse to buy it or even accept it for free. If you need a thing, can something else be reused or repurposed to fill that need? If a “new” item is needed, can you find it at a thrift/consignment store or other “used” outlet? Finally, if you determine “new” needs to be bought new, make sure it has long term value – sometimes spending a little more up front for extra features provides a longer useful life. Refuse low value items – they produce the most waste.

We also: support small, local providers; shop green for high quality, low impact products; reuse shopping bags and shop materials; keep what makes sense for future reuse; sell or donate usable items we won’t use in future; buy only what we’ll use and use what we buy. And learn from past experience. 🙂”

– Char Kaiser, Sales Operations Specialist

“I’ve used the same paper cereal bowl at OWC (until the Shelter order) 32 times. Jennifer M can attest! I’ve been recycling for 37 years and wayyyy before there was curbside pickup.”

– Grant Dahlke, Brand Evangelist

Reduce
• on-demand water heater, so we are not constantly heating a tank of water
• avoid using heat until really needed; use windows and shades to avoid using AC until really needed
• iPhone controlled thermostat runs heat and AC only when people are home, can control it long distance
• energy-efficient lightbulbs, appliances
• upkeep insulation on windows, pipes, etc, to reduce heat loss/ AC loss
• try to buy less plastic packaging
• avoid buying single-use items, stick to multi-taskers

Reuse
• buy used whenever possible (resale stores)
• reuse packing materials from shipments we receive, for things we ship
• reuse comics for wrapping paper

Recycle
• paper, glass, aluminum
• donate household goods, books, clothing, etc, to resale shops

– Eileen Millard, Marketing Administrator

“I’ve been using the same water bottles from bottled water and drinks to hold water and use that to water the plants around my house or even to drink water from. It’s basically the same thing as filling it back up with filtered water from a Brita filter rather than trying to open a new bottle every time.”

– Kevin Huang, Quality Control Technician

“I believe that the most impactful way I have been able to help reduce my family’s carbon footprint is by the first R, (reduce.) We have a very strict ethos here, “are your producing or consuming? As long as you produce more then you consume, things tend to balance out in the end. This is applied to everything, budgeting, purchasing habits, donating, even when we are looking at houses and cars.

It’s also fun to think like a producer and not a consumer. For example, when looking at marketing material for a product, think to yourself, does this actually bring value to my life, or am I drinking the marketing cool-aid? Are there claims made with a large asterisk next to it? If you adhere to these rules you will find that staying organized, and keeping a clean house becomes a lot easier, plus your budget and landfills will thank you.”

– Luke Engstrom, Category Manager, Network Storage

“Carry my shopping bags to reduce the use of plastic bags when going shopping. Bring my cup for takeaway coffee. Sorting the garbage and put it in the right bins.”

– Kate Sun, Sales & Marketing Manager, Taiwan

“All of my trash is recycled, anything that is allowed to go in the bin is recycled. I recycle any broken or unwanted electronics at the Algonquin Township Offices. You don’t have to wait for a specialized recycling event, they have a ‘self serve’ shed! I also recycle styrofoam at the Township offices. Right now, the styrofoam shed is closed during the pandemic, so I’m saving styrofoam at home to recycle later.

I have switched just about all of the bulbs in my house to LED bulbs. They use less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs. All of my chargers for the phone and tablet are on switched outlets. If something is not plugged in and charging, then they are switched off. I read that those items can pull power even if nothing is attached to them!

I have a nice collection of reusable shopping bags that I keep in the car. Now with the pandemic, I have had to stop using them. Instead, I buy paper bags when I shop at Aldi and I recycle those bags immediately. Ordinarily, I would save them and reuse them, but right now that’s not a good idea, so recycling paper seems better than using plastic.

I have some stainless steel straws that I use when I go out and when I travel, to avoid using disposable plastic straws.

Last fall on trash day a neighbor had put out a nice wood endtable. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, they probably just didn’t want it anymore. I put it in my van and dropped it off at Bethesda! Someone ended up with a nice table at a good price, and Bethesda made some money!

When I cleaned out my garage, I saved scrap metal and put it out on the curb, the ‘scrap guy’ came and took it so it didn’t go in the trash. I also gave away tools to friends. After that, I donated what was left to Restore in Woodstock. I save boxes to pack items for donation to Bethesda Thrift shop in Crystal Lake. Any boxes that won’t be used that way are flattened and recycled at the Township Offices.”

– Deb Bennett, Cost Accountant


Our Green Garden

OWC Team Members share a community garden at the Woodstock headquarters.


Well, this officially ends “Earth Week” for the Rocket Yard blog, but it doesn’t mean we are done being green. We will continue our environmentally friendly endeavors as best we can, and encourage everyone to do the same.

We would love your thoughts and comments, too! How is it that you are Earth-friendly? Everything we do adds up, regardless of how small you think it is – so perhaps you have an interesting idea or practice that you can share with all of our Rocket Yard readers!



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