If you’ve been following us on social media, you know that just last week we headed down to Austin, TX for the 5th annual SXSWEco conference. The four-day summit was a swarm of brave new ideas: breakout environmental initiatives, big-name keynote speakers, startup boot camps, and panel discussions… all aspiring to a healthier, more sustainable world. As exhibitors, we at BTW Magazine had the pleasure to get to know some of the other organizations showcasing their products.
While our Holiday Issue (Want to receive one? Subscribe through Kickstarter) will have a separate feature on our experience in the Lone Star state, we couldn’t wait that long to fill you in on some of the companies and projects that jazzed us up (in no particular order):
- The Clorox Safe Water Project: Unsafe drinking water is a leading cause of illness, malnutrition, and death for young children worldwide. In Peru the issue is especially pressing, where one in seven people don’t have access to safe water. To help, The Clorox Company is expanding the efforts of The Safe Water Project, a public health program that provides public bleach dispensers and health education in rural Peru. Over the next five years, the Safe Water Project will provide 400,000 liters of safe drinking water daily to 25,000 Peruvians.
- Honda’s New Zero Emissions 2015 Accord: For three decades, Honda has played a leading role in meeting environmental challenges and creating ultra-low emission vehicles. And this newest one is no exception.
- SustainGreen: Two recovering Wall Street investment bankers have partnered up and just launched this green credit card. It reduces each user’s carbon footprint with every purchase and helps fight global climate change, while providing funding for preservation and reforestation of rainforests.
- Accompany: An emerging e-commerce site that’s “globally curated and ethically edited,” it’s where you’ll find apparel, accessories, and home furnishings that have undergone intense scrutiny for both sustainability and ethical creation practices. Describing themselves as “Barneys meets Whole Foods,” the shop curates absolutely gorgeous artisan-made products from around the world that are fair trade, and philanthropic to the makers.
- Do Amore Rings: These wedding rings don’t just change the lives of the couple that buys them; the cost also goes to fund safe water for life for two other people. Bonus: They’re also conflict-free and made in America of recycled materials.
- Au Naturale Glow: Natural makeup usually can’t compete with the conventional stuff in terms of staying power or variety of products. That’s all changed now, thanks to Au Natural Glow, an organic, chemical-free brand that offers everything a beauty lover could want: concealers, highlighters, lipsticks, eye makeup, and more.
- CrowdComfort: A Boston-based company said to be the world’s first crowdsourced thermostat. The app lets building occupants rate their level of comfort and report any maintenance issues. It then aggregates and analyzes the data to suggest the temperature for each floor. Eric Graham (CEO), said that CrowdComfort aimed to bridge the gap between the data management of the building and its occupants.
- Austin Technology Incubator: A startup incubator of the University of Texas at Austin, the institution plays an important role in nurturing and cultivating young talents and innovation, priming Austin to be the innovation capital of American South.
- SpinFish Exhibition Upcycling Program: This unique event solution company helps organizations minimize waste by diverting it from landfills. They gather, collect, and sort unused materials at exhibitions and trade shows, and then distribute them to local organizations and community members.
City of Austin’s sustainability initiatives: The city of Austin is one of the most progressive in the country in terms of sustainability efforts. Here are a few that we got to learn more about:
- Austin Energy: A publicly owned utility and a department of the City of Austin, it’s one of the first utilities in the country that partners with NEST to offer its customers a demand response program and an incentive to purchase the NEST Learning Thermostat.
- Single-use Carry-out Bag Ordinance: Since March 2013, the city of Austin has banned the use of plastic bags in all of its commercial establishments.
- Recycled Reads (associated with City of Austin Public Library): It diverts materials from landfills by turning old books into art, which is available for purchase.
- Bicycle Program: Austin has been designated a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Cyclists. That means 50 to 75 percent of the city’s arterial roads are equipped with bicycle facilities. The city is working to expand and add more shared-lane markings and cycle tracks (these tracks are separated from auto traffic by a physical barrier).
These are just a few of the groundbreaking organizations we met with in Austin. Each exhibitor and attendee shared their passion for creating better products or services in the name of a more a sustainable community. Stay tuned for our recap on the panels that inspired us next week.