Top 10 Things We Learned at SXSW Eco®

Sylvia Earle

A handful of our employees attended the fourth annual SXSW Eco® conference in Austin, Texas, and learned some pretty amazing things, such as the latest trends in recycling. We also supported SXSW Eco by offsetting the emissions from attendee travel and called attention to issues around water use with our rain barrel message board.

We wanted to share the Top 10 items we learned while there with those of you who didn’t attend. If you were there, let us know in the comments what you learned!

  1. Fashion is the second most polluting industry (just behind petroleum) – SXSW Eco Session “Fashion Detox: Innovation and Integrity”
  2. Two-thirds of the planet is now defined as “water scarce” – SXSW Eco Session “Tackling the Renewable Energy-Water Nexus”
  3. To elicit actionable responses, try communicating climate change in the scale of our children’s lifetimes, for example: “The science is clear that we will see increases in temperatures and more frequent extreme precipitation and drought events in Central Texas by the time today’s kindergarteners graduate from high school”. – SXSW Eco Session “Climate Adaptation: Lessons Learned and Future Directions”
  4. Consider changing your diet to exclude anything from the sea (e.g., fish, crustaceans, seaweed) because of the large amount of ocean pollutants that such sea life consumes and because of the overuse of the ocean’s resources that results from eating these items – SXSW Eco keynote speaker Dr. Sylvia Earle (pictured above)
  5. Bays and estuaries can provide a “crystal ball” into the future state of our water supply. – SXSW Eco Session “Water Sustainability: Current Policies and Lessons Learned”
  6. Water conservation and drought management are not the same thing: conservation is something that you plan for and can proactively include as a resource in water supply evaluations; drought management is a reactive measure to conserve water when under severe water distress, often resulting in economically inefficient (i.e., expensive) water conservation practices. – SXSW Eco Session “Water Sustainability: Current Policies and Lessons Learned”
  7. Water need is a local problem, but we can’t solely rely on local solutions. Instead, think about a state’s water resources as a single pot of water for all users. – SXSW Eco Session “Water Sustainability: Current Policies and Lessons Learned”
  8. Architects and builders of homes have to dress a home and its inhabitants in one outfit that works over the course of a day as well as over the changing seasons and weather patterns. – SXSW Eco Session “Salvaging the Holocene: Biomimicry & Resilience”
  9. “It’s not the light bulb that’s going to solve the problem, but the hand that controls the switch.” – SXSW Eco Session “Salvaging the Holocene: Biomimicry & Resilience”
  10. Plastic pollution, e.g., plastic bags that end up in streets and waterways or microbeads from face washes that find their way down the drain and into the ocean, is a manufacturing design flaw, as the plastic has a single use with no recovery plan. – SXSW Eco Session “How Consumerism Can Actually Save the Environment”

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