Seen and Heard at SXSW Eco: Day 2

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

An enthusiastic Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, gives her keynote presentation "Sustainable Seas: The Vision and the Reality" at the 2014 SXSW Eco Conference.
An enthusiastic Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, gives her keynote presentation at the 2014 SXSW Eco conference.

The SXSW Eco conference is flying by, and Day 2 is already behind us. The day was filled with startup demos and inspirational sessions — not to mention the SXSW Eco Awards and our Twitter chat with HP (if you missed it, you can catch a recap here).

In a whirlwind lineup of events, panelists discussed everything from sustainable seafood and reducing waste to urban mobility and protecting the honeybee population. At Triple Pundit’s happy hour event last night, we asked folks to share their key takeaways from the day. The responses were as diverse as they are.

Two pull-out quotes that got the crowd going: “Two moments really stuck out to me: The first one comes from Cheryl Dahle. She’s the founder of Flip Labs and its sister organization Future of Fish, and one of the things that she talked about on their panel today was becoming an ’embedded ally’ with the communities that you’re working with because it actually builds not only the road to trust but it leads to better, faster collaboration. That seemed to really resonate with everyone in the room and a bunch of conversation came from that.

“The second one was in a panel at the end of the day with Carol Sandford. She opened up the panel saying, ‘We need to make a promise beyond our capacity.’ And that I thought was brilliant because making promises not only from a business, but also a personal, entrepreneurial standpoint that we think are just completely audacious, I think that’s the road to change.” — Cari Hanson, partnerships director for Future of Fish

Like-minded folks coming together: “We had a jam-packed day. It was a really awesome experience to be able to listen and learn from lots of folks all across the [agricultural] sector. One thing’s for sure: So many people are passionate about what food comes to table. I tried to get to as many as I could today, and the food and agriculture conversations were great — not even just the panels that are taking place but even conversations with people in the hallways. The last time I looked at my watch it was 8:30 in the morning, so it was a really awesome day listening and engaging and talking to folks.” — Billy Brennan, senior manager of sustainability and international communications for Monsanto

Breaking down barriers for women: “Sylvia Earle’s keynote speech was fantastic. They also showed a film of her from the ’60s or ’70s when she was out doing an expedition of study in the ocean, and it’s funny because she said she was hesitant to show it because it’s very sexist. The video is like ‘Oh look at these women, they’re going into the ocean!’ And they were all in bikinis; it was very much about their looks and it was really ridiculous.

“But it’s cool because it showed how she was breaking down those barriers for women of being a scientist and going into this world where it’s typically these old, bearded men who had this fraternity of ocean exploration, and she was breaking that down. They were showing afterwards interviews with people in that world, both men and women, who said how she did break down those barriers and how she was really a leader who opened the door for other women in science to be able to do those types of things. It was so cool to see that.” — Adam Mott, sustainability director for The North Face

Sharing ideas for better communities: “I very much enjoyed our panel today [‘Green Job Creation: Path to Community Empowerment‘]. It was very well attended, good engagement, great questions and a lot of great follow-up. This is our first time coming here, and Chicago Botanic Garden is a program that not a lot of people outside of Chicago know about. So, we’re trying to spread the word on it and see how we may be able to spread the program in some ways. The panel was great…well attended by a lot of smart people who are looking to solve some global problems.” — James Boudreau, vice president of marketing and development for Chicago Botanic Garden

One sustainable action leads to another: “I really enjoyed listening to Jonathan Bloom [author of “Wasted Food“] speak on the ‘Food Waste Frontier‘ panel. There was a lot of talk about food waste recovery, but he brought the conversation back to reduction — and I really appreciated that. I’ve been vegetarian for a while, but I recently went fully vegan. Most of [America’s] food waste comes from produce. Meat is No. 2, but produce is the biggest culprit. It can be a real barrier to a vegan diet because it’s more expensive and you waste more.” — Alexandra Vietti, creator of the Waste Less Plants project

A focus on ocean conservation: “SXSW Eco is doing a really great job of focusing on ocean conservation. I don’t really see that at any other conference. I know the conference organizers have personal interests in ocean plastic pollution. I’ve seen at least three panels in the program about it, and that’s super interesting to me because you think about the other big conferences and you don’t see that there. So I think that’s one interesting differentiation that sets the conference apart.” — Emily Chan, account superviser of business and social purpose at Edelman

Day 3 preview

Not sure how to spend the rest of your day at SXSW Eco? We have a few ideas you’re sure to love.

  • All-of-the-Above in a Carbon Constrained World: The Day 3 keynote speech from Ernest Moniz of the U.S. Department of Energy will touch on the U.S. energy system, the president’s Climate Action Plan and so-called all-of-the-above solutions.
  • Startup Bootcamp: At the Startup Bootcamp sessions on Day 3, advice on accounting, venture funding and corporate partnerships will go on display.
  • Industry leaders gather to ‘detox’ the fashion world: At a panel discussion on Oct. 8, industry leaders like Christoph Frehsee of Amour Vert, Dave Cobban of Nike and Greta Eagan, author of “Wear No Evil,” will talk about how improved methods can lighten the impact of the industry. From sustainable textiles to closed-loop manufacturing, this panel invites you to the “future of fashion.”
  • The Human Side of Climate Change: Take a journey with Rainforest Partnership founder Niyanta Spelman and photographer Matt Lankes deep into the Amazon jungles of Peru through a collection of photographs and accompanying stories. This journey pulls together spectacular photographs of wildlife, landscapes and indigenous peoples — raising public awareness about the pressing issues of forest protection and climate change.
  • Closing Party presented by Nat Geo WILD: Wrap things up at the annual Closing Party at the Textile Warehouse (310 E. 3rd St.) presented by Nat Geo WILD. Learn about the locations explored in Nat Geo’s natural history franchise series Destination Wild, enjoy food and drinks inspired these locations, and pal around with new friends one last time before heading home.

Image credit: Amanda Stronza (courtesy of SXSW Eco)

Mary Mazzoni

Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a freelance journalist who has a passion for storytelling and sustainability. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, Earth911, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands and the Daily Meal.