Sunday, March 16, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 10:54 PM
drum roll, please.......SXSJ at the San Jose Hotel on South Congress! These dudes did it right!

A solar stage by Sustainable Waves, compostable paper plates, biodegradable utensils, rainwater collection system that water the outdoor plants, plenty of recycling still my heart!

The only blemish on my event experience was the Toyota/Yaris sponsorship....wha?! It seemed kind of odd to have new 2008 Yaris models zooming in and out of the concert area offering concert-goers a chance to test drive the new models (which do get 29/35 mpg, but come on!). However, the Yarises mostly sat curbside waiting for potential passengers, so perhaps other concert-goers felt the same way I did.

I wish the rest of my SXSW review were as glowing. I did see recycling bins, but there were at least three times as many garbage cans. They also mostly said "Recycle Plastic bottles and aluminum cans here", so the majority of the beer bottles ended up in the trash.

On the subject of trash, like every year, plastic cups, tin foil, concert fliers, and gobs of all other sorts of trash blow down 6th Street and the surrounding area. At least for me, the high of seeing the best and brightest new bands in the world quickly subsides and I'm bummed at how much trash it seems to take to have a good time.

Along with my new-found love for Fleet Foxes, Cryptacize, Black Joe Lewis, and my deepened love for Roky Erickson, SXSW really helped me understand why people hate on renewable energy certificates and carbon offsets. As you know, I've been a proponent of both (as long as they're certified) for some time. However, when a festival claims they're taking steps towards sustainability and goes so far as to put images of wind turbines all over their conference signage---it really rings true of greenwashing (and doesn't say much for lessening a carbon footprint) when there is a ridiculous amount of trash on the streets at night and the only active participatory greening opportunities that I saw are few and far between recycling bins.

My advice to SXSW planners who are probably already working on next year's conference is to focus on the trash. Organize all the venues to use real glasses or biodegradable cups, plates, and utensils. Austin has a burgeoning community/victory garden scene, so I'm sure they could find a good home for some compost. Or challenge some students from one of the region's eight colleges and universities to come up with a better waste management system.

Do you have any green tips for the SXSW planners?

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