How orvel started
I am Mateo Velez. I was born in Colombia and my family moved to the States when I was four years old. Ever since I was little, I wanted to create something that would change the world. People called me a dreamer and said that I dreamt “too much,” but I knew that one day I would make a difference. As a social entrepreneur, I am passionate about using business to preserve the Earth with innovative, creative and sustainable methods. Now as a resident of coastal city Lynn, Massachusetts, I can’t go a day away from the ocean. I wake up every morning and run by the water. Not only is it a great way to start my day, but the ocean views in the morning are freaking amazing! I fell in love with the sun reflecting its rays on the water and the waves crashing on the walls. But there is something ruining it for me: plastic. It did not belong here. It is not supposed to be part of the view.
It’s also not supposed to be ingested by any creature. Chris Jordan’s Albatross and other videos on plastic pollution were extremely eye-opening. I was overcome with sadness and guilt when I realized that over 100,000 marine creatures are dying every year from plastic consumption. My mind was blown when I found out that we are also consuming plastic through our food and water! I experienced a rude awakening because the items the animals had ingested were familiar to me. I’ve used lighters to light my nephew’s birthday cakes. I’ve used plastic bags to carry groceries home. I’ve removed the caps from water bottles to quench my thirst. I’ve used straws at restaurants because I did not want my lips touching public glasses. I’ve used all of those items without thinking twice about the harm they can cause. I was like the average human being at the top of the food chain, using whatever is convenient for me – even at the expense of others. Now, I know better. My research has fueled a passion for conservation and preservation I never knew I had. I became compelled to make a difference both for those innocent animals suffering from plastic ingestion and for the humans who hold the power of change within themselves.
When I decided to make a difference and focus my energy on tackling the plastic pollution, I asked myself: How can I do it? I decided to incorporate healthy living to my commitment towards a good cause. I began to make small changes, like waking up earlier to pick up plastic on my runs. I became more conscious about my decisions and reduced my use of plastic. When I went to the gym, I drank from water fountains instead of bringing plastic bottles with me. Then I started to do it wherever I was, and not just at the beach or when I was running. If I saw something on my way to work, I picked it up and waited to get to work to throw it in the trash or recycle it. I reused plastic as much as I could. But I am only one person and I can only do so much. If I can change myself, others can change, too. We can make a difference together. I talked to some of my friends and they supported the idea. I met with strangers and chatted with them. They also supported it. Now I'm here sharing my passion, raising awareness, and using Orvel to empower as many people as possible to join us in making a difference!