Eco-Tips

Sustainability message echoed at SXSW Eco

The dust has settled on the third annual SXSW Eco, and we were honored to offset the travel of all staff and attendees for the third consecutive year.

For the first time this year, we participated in a panel titled, “Stir it Up: Brownies + Social Mission + Solar Energy,” which detailed our unique collaboration with Greyston Bakery and Whole Planet Foundation and how it has positively impacted numerous stakeholders. Learn more here.

Below are some interesting fun facts, eco tips, statistics and other compelling nuggets of information from SXSW Eco that may interest you:

Water

  • The public water supply in the U.S. accounts for 70 billion gallons/day, according to Doug Bennett, who says one way to reduce water consumption is for homeowners to use only functional grass in their landscaping (as opposed to ornamental grass). What’s the difference? If the only time you step on your lawn is with a lawnmower, then you have ornamental grass.
  • Per William Sarni, since power plants consume vast quantities of water, people will increasingly look to renewable energy sources like wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) for their water-saving attributes, especially in areas affected by drought.
  • Why should water conservation matter to the average person? One reason, according to Tamin Pechet, is because water and sewer costs are the fastest rising utility expenses in the U.S.
  • For more facts about water, click here.

Food Consumption

  • In the U.S., 40 percent of all food produced is wasted (i.e. not consumed), and 25 percent of all U.S. fresh water supply is used on that wasted food, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
  • Also according to the NRDC, 97 percent of food waste in the U.S. does not get composted and is responsible for 90 percent of U.S. landfill methane emissions. Methane has more than 20 times the heat-trapping ability of CO2, so even though it is released in smaller volumes, per-unit it is more potent in causing climate change.
  • What are the two biggest drivers of food waste?
    • Cosmetically imperfect, but perfectly edible and nutritious, produce.
    • Misinformation about what the “sell/best by” date means. It’s not an expiration date and is not related to food safety. It’s an arbitrary date determined by the food producer of when the food is at its peak flavor. It isn’t federally regulated and isn’t even regulated in all states.

Climate Change

  • Keep an eye out in 2014 for “Years of Living Dangerously,” a multi-part series on Showtime that aims to “blow the doors off” the conversation on climate change, according to M. Sanjayan, who appears in the program along with actors such as Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and Harrison Ford.
  • The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. Austin is an Innovator City on the leadership team. View this infographic to learn why cities are the key to addressing global climate change, and here are eight solutions to the problem.

Ever wonder about the human footprint on the West? Ecowest.org visualizes environmental trends, including humanity’s imprint on the West, shown in the image below:

Eco West Map

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