Sustainability Matters: An Earth Day Message From OWC

At its core, OWC was founded on sustainability – extending the life of technology and expanding its usefulness. OWC empowers users to repair and upgrade their machines to get the most life out of their devices. That means fewer devices in landfills. OWC’s efforts extend well beyond the products they sell. They’re casting a vision for sustainability for companies that is implementable today. Earth Day was founded to bring people together from all corners of society to care for our shared planet. OWC believes that if we can invest in our shared future, our children will be able to enjoy the dividends.

Larry O’Connor, founder/CEO of OWC, recounts that he “grew up in the country, where there’s nature everywhere. My dad was in the paper business, he dealt in recycled paper.” That upbringing instilled in O’Connor a set of values for respecting nature. “It’s just common sense to minimize impact,” O’Connor notes, when talking about OWC’s method of doing business. Larry says, “growing up in rural Illinois, amidst trees and farmlands, gave me a natural affinity for land and preservation.”

With thirty years in the business, OWC is a mature tech company. But Larry is determined to keep going for the next thirty years. In order to do that, he says, “we can’t use things up; we got to make sure things last.” Quite an appropriate remark for a company that specializes in breathing new life into existing machines. 

In 2010 the U.S. Green Building Council awarded OWC with LEED Platinum certification. In fact, “out of more than 14,000 LEED projects engaged worldwide since the program’s 1998 inception, OWC is one of less than three hundred to achieve the Platinum standard. With this recognition, OWC also became the first privately owned light manufacturing/assembly firm in Illinois to obtain LEED Platinum status.”

OWC’s efforts at sustainability in their headquarters are extensive. Geothermal, wind turbine, a bio aquifer storm system, Solar panels, and 94% solid waste recycling combine together to create an amazing facility. Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council noted “The Other World Computing project efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come.” OWC believes that “environmental stewardship is not only the right thing to do for future generations, it also makes good economic sense”

Larry O’Connor desires the company he founded to make a long-term positive impact. It’s from that heart that OWC seeks out positive, creative initiatives to get involved with. “Kiss the Ground” is a hope-filled documentary film highlighting a path toward renewing our natural resources. OWC stepped in and provided cutting-edge storage and networking tools to the post-production workflow. Director, Josh Tickell, declared, “without OWC, I have no idea how we would have delivered this film to Netflix with the budget we had.” The Kiss the Ground crew succeeded and shipped their beautiful film to Netflix in pristine 4K resolution.

The Last Place on Earth is a great project devoted to highlighting those few remaining untouched landscapes—that are being touched. O’Connor makes the point that “these are places that once they are gone…they are gone.” 

African Waters and European Waters delve into the subject of the importance of water, and the impact of not having this precious natural resource. Larry mentions “all these different projects can have a huge impact.” But OWC’s commitment goes even beyond technological solutions. Larry himself, also been a contributor to Charity Water, and as the father of four, he’s very much concerned with how the state of this planet will be left for his kids. 

“There’s a constant drive in the company all the time” mentions Jen Soulé, President of OWC,  “what are even small changes we can make that on the sustainability side that will have a big impact?” Soulé gives the simple example of asking, “do we need to have this cable in a bag? There’s always the question, ‘do we have to continue to do things the way we’ve done, or can we do them better?’”

Questions like these go into the design, manufacture, and distribution of the plethora of products that OWC produces. OWC gained a reputation for producing RAM and storage products to upgrade Apple computers. Those upgrades came with renowned quality and affordable prices. The real-world result is that many computers continued to be used long after their counterparts who didn’t receive those upgrades.

Any time that you can extend the life of a computer, repair a gadget, or fix a phone – instead of throwing it away – you really are making a difference. OWC’s products have grown far beyond those upgrades that made them into Mac fan favorites, but the heart behind their products hasn’t changed. 

Larry O’Connor, CEO, proclaims, “we’ve all got this beautiful planet, we’ve all got this great abundance, but you’ve got to take care of it.” But OWC’s thinking goes well beyond platitudes. O’Connor notes, “there’s got to be some management, some responsibility taken to make sure this land is here for our kids.” It’s within this cross-section of action and vision that OWC’s efforts lie. By believing that businesses can be responsible to today’s customers and tomorrow’s kids, they’ve set an example for genuine success.

This Earth Day we can all come together and see what we can do. OWC’s efforts dispel the myths that environmental and fiscal responsibility can’t co-exist. Whether its buildings, products or creative initiatives OWC has set the example for other tech companies to follow., Their efforts show that technology and creativity can be employed in making products for today, so that we can all say with Larry O’Connor, “let’s have a better tomorrow”.

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