The Ultimate (Eco) Guide To SXSW 2019


You can feel it in the air. SXSW is back… and so is all the anxiety that comes with it. What events should I go to? Which films should I see? How the heck am I going to get around town?!

That’s why, every year we put together “The Ultimate (Eco) Guide To SXSW.” Below you’ll find a curated list of the environmentally-themed films, speakers, and events coming to Austin over the next week. We’ve even put together a list of events that are free to attend, so even if you don’t have a badge, you can still join in on the fun!

Getting around town…

Let’s face it, every time SXSW rolls around, all anyone can talk about is the traffic. Here are some tips to help you avoid the frustration:

Ditch Day

On Friday, March 8th, Lyft, Capital Metro, Movability, and the Downtown Austin Alliance are teaming up to encourage people to embrace carpooling and other forms of alternative transportation. Lyft is even giving a 25 percent discount on its shared ride services. All you have to do is enter DITCHDAY in the ‘Promos’ section of your Lyft app for 25 percent off of two Lyft Shared rides on March 8th.

Austin B-cycle

From March 8th through March 16th, anyone can ride Austin B-Cycle, with the first 30 minutes of your ride free of charge courtesy of Showtime!

And that’s not all! If you’ve got some free time during SXSW, you can volunteer with Austin B-cycle to help shuffle bikes back and forth between stations. If you work one shift, you’ll get half off the purchase of an annual B-cycle pass. If you work for two shifts, you can get the entire $80 annual pass for free. You can sign up for a volunteer shift here.

Austin Bcycle Free

Cap Metro

Cap Metro will be offering increased service during SXSW. You can check out their full schedule here. 

Still hungry for more transportation tips? Check out the official “Spring Fest ATX Mobility Guide” from the City of Austin here.

Events to attend if you don’t have a badge…

Career Fair For The Future

Sunday, March 10th from 9am to 5pm at the Austin Public Library

Free career fair for college and high school students, featuring a wide range of industry innovators in town for SXSW. Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP in advance.

Career Fair For The Future


Food + City Expo, Student Challenge, and Speaker Series

Sunday, March 10th from 4pm to 6:30pm at the Avaya Auditorium on UT’s campus

Each year, the Food + City Startup Challenge brings together a group of innovative companies that are changing the way people eat. Companies in this year’s cohort include the Alpaca Market (which sells healthy and fresh food in reusable containers out of vending machines) and Heliponix (an at-home appliance that grows food right in consumers’ kitchens).

During the event on Sunday, attendees will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the startups participating in this year’s challenge, as well as hear from Dr. Johanna Mendelson Forman, scholar in residence at American University’s School of International Service, where she teaches “Conflict Cuisine: An Introduction to War and Peace around the Dinner Table.”

You can RSVP for this free event here.

Food + City Expo


Films For The Forest 2019

Sunday, March 10th from 4:30pm to 6:30pm at the Long Center

Lights, camera, action… for rainforests! On March 10, filmmakers around the world will Speak for the Forest at Rainforest Partnership’s 10th annual Films for the Forest film competition. Come experience the forest for yourself, and hear the amazing stories that will make you learn, laugh, cry, and be inspired to end deforestation.

This event is free to attend. You can learn more here.

Films For The Forest

Arctic Passage Art Installation

Tuesday, March 12th from 10am to 6pm at the Harry Ransom Center

Award-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker Louie Palu will install a series of photographs frozen in large ice blocks on the Ransom Center’s plaza (which will melt throughout the course of the day). The photographs were made in the high Arctic over the course of three years while Palu was on assignment for National Geographic.

Then at 4pm inside, in the Harry Ransom Center’s theater, Palu will speak about the context of his installation and his experience photographing in the Arctic.

The installation is part of the SXSW Art Program. The events are free and a SXSW badge is not needed.

You can learn more about the event here.

Arctic Passage
Canadian Airman, Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada, 2017 © Louie Palu & National Geographic

MOD Bikes SXSW Music Series

Local electric bike shop MOD Bikes is hosting a series of free live music events for SXSW at its shop on South First Street.

Shows Include:

Coast To Coast – Thursday, March 14th from 8pm to midnight

Special Performances By:
-Austen van der Bleek (St Pete, FL)

Drink Outside the Box – Saturday, March 16th from 1pm to 3pm

With Performances By:
-Polar Summer
-Girl Skin
-Wild Fire
All Female, All Texas Showcase – Sunday, March 17th from noon to 3pm
With Performances by:
-Tortuga Shades
-Sedona Skies
-Cassandra Elese & The Outside Dogs
Drink Outside The Box

Events to attend if you do have a badge…


Can Urban Agriculture Make Cities More Resilient?

Saturday, March 9th from 11am to noon at the Hilton Austin Downtown Room 400-402

“To address the biggest challenges of the 21st century, such as urbanization, climate change, and the effects of more frequent disasters, we need innovative approaches to diagnose and address these acute shocks and chronic stressors.
Urban acupuncture is about seeing the city as an organism, identifying its stress areas and applying small-scale interventions to revitalise it.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the New Left

Saturday, March 9th from 5pm to 6pm at the Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D

“Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx to two working-class parents. She attended Boston University, where she earned degrees in Economics and International Relations. While there, she worked for the late Sen. Kennedy handling foreign affairs and immigration casework for constituent families.”

Spin Cycle: The Rise of Scooters In Cities

Sunday, March 10th from 2pm to 3pm at the Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon B

“Urban areas are increasingly in need of mobility solutions to help residents move around. As cities seek more transportation options, an emerging innovation has inundated streets across the country: electric scooters. As more and more people find themselves zipping around town on scooters, how can cities, scooter companies, and riders ensure it’s a smooth ride?”

PS – This panel discussion features Austin Mayor Steve Adler

Survival of the Fittest: Mobility In Cities

Saturday, March 9th from 5pm to 6pm at the Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon B

“Cleaner air. Quieter streets. Shared access to electric vehicles in the near-term. Cost-effective, driverless transportation options in the long-term. These things excite urban dwellers today and inspire the best city leaders to push for transportation solutions that will enable healthy and happy urban living tomorrow. The opposite of these things – preferential treatment for car owners, dismissal of a multi-modal transportation ecosystem, archaic parking and transit systems – widens the attainability gap for most city inhabitants, damages a municipality’s ability to attract citizens, harms the environment and threatens the health of a region’s economy. ”

Alt. Proteins: Not Just Another Tech Revolution

Tuesday, March 12th from 12:30pm to 1:30pm at the JW Marriott, Salon C

“Eating meat isn’t over, but consumers are reducing consumption of animal products at unprecedented rates, for health, environmental, and ethical concerns. No wonder, then, that entrepreneurs and VCs are pouring in to develop products that look, cook and taste like the real thing. Who are these pioneers? What opportunities and challenges await them? And, what will differentiate winners from losers?”

Localizing Food to Restore Human Health

Monday, March 11th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at the Fairmont, Manchester CD

“Here, we will discuss the democratization of access to the pure, clean food and flavors of our ancestors, bringing culture back to our tables, habits back to our cooking, and health back to humanity, through a combination of increasingly popular methods that are both old and new.”

Food, Health, Climate Nexus Meet Up

Monday, March 11th from 5pm to 6pm at the Fairmont, Violet

“A gathering for participants in the Food, Health, Sustainable Cities Tracks to discuss the EAT Lancet Commission report — the product of 3 years of work by 37 global experts examining the nexus of the international food system, human health, and environmental impacts of agriculture. Meet others interested in these issues, to consider the report along with its relevance and implications for future actions at national, state, and local levels.”

Global Brands and the Milkman Model Meet Up

Monday, March 11th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at the Fairmont, Sunflower

“Single-use plastic containers are clogging up our waterways. With the help of TerraCycle, consumer product goods companies like Nestlé and PepsiCo are testing reusable packaging to consumers in New York and Paris this summer. Expect stainless-steel Haagen Dazs ice cream containers and glass Coca Cola bottles. Questions will foster debates and diverse perspectives.”

How America Can Feed Itself, Not Landfills

Wednesday, March 13th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at the JW Marriott, Salon C

“Annually, nearly 41 million Americans face hunger while nearly 133 billion pounds of food are wasted. As a nation priding itself on being a world leader, the United States can do better. That’s why people across the country are building partnerships across sectors and starting their own ventures in an effort to feed people, not landfills. Young, motivated individuals are cutting red tape and making their voices heard locally and nationally.”

Launching a Food Company to Change the World

Monday, March 11th from 5pm to 6pm at the JW Marriott, Salon AB

“Hear from a panel of top plant based future food companies on how this industry is evolving, along with top lessons when building a food product. Panelists include the Co-Founder of Fora, makers of Faba Butter, the CEO of Ocean Hugger Foods, makers of the world’s first plant-based alternative to raw tuna, and the founder of the plant-based meat company, Abbot’s Butcher.”

Solving the Food Desert Dilemma

Monday, March 11th from 11am to noon at the JW Marriott, Salon C

“There’s a problem in America’s low-income neighborhoods: Residents have no access to affordable wholesome foods. Indeed, a recent study from economists at NYU, Stanford, and the University of Chicago found that 55 percent of all U.S. ZIP codes with a median income below $25,000 are what’s called “food deserts” — neighborhoods where the only meal options are high-calorie, processed foods. But now some social entrepreneurs are finding ways to combat the food-desert dilemma through creative pricing strategies and educational programs that empower residents of these communities to make more wholesome food decisions.”

Vote With Your Fork – Consumers and Regenerative Ag

Tuesday, March 12th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at the JW Marriott, Salon C

“The past decade has seen impressive growth in the demand for organic and whole foods. But, organic agriculture has its limitations. While better than conventional agriculture, organic farming applied on an industrial scale continues to damage our soils and the environment. Could regenerative agriculture be a viable alternative?”

Family in the Anthropocene: Kids + Climate Crisis

Saturday, March 9th from 12:30pm to 2pm at the Westin Austin Downtown, Paramount 3

“Let’s investigate a difficult issue that can be emotional, personal and also societal: what does it mean to have children in the midst of a potentially catastrophic climate crisis? While the majority of people do not yet consider climate change in family planning, a growing chorus of voices says that we ought to.”

Adaptation and Mitigation in a Changing Climate Meet Up

Sunday, March 10th from 11am to noon at the Fairmont, Violet

“This Meet Up brings people together to talk about their worries, concerns, and coping styles while we watch our world rapidly change. We want to listen to people share technology, movements within their communities, and ways they have seen success in mitigating or adapting to climate change.”


Community First, A Home for the Homeless


“Community First, A Home for the Homeless, is a documentary introducing an extraordinary new movement in Austin, TX, which is transforming the lives of homeless people through the power of community. As explained by the founder Alan Graham, ‘It is specifically designed to lift the chronically homeless off the streets of the Austin area offering them a place to call home, helping them to heal from the ravages of life on the streets allowing them to rediscover a purpose in their lives.'”

The River and the Wall

“The River and the Wall follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel 1200 miles from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes. They set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a border wall on the natural environment, but as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley, they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters.”


“Aquarela takes audiences on a deeply cinematic journey through the transformative beauty and raw power of water. Filmed at 96 frames-persecond, the film is a visceral wake-up call that humans are no match for the sheer force and capricious will of Earth’s most precious element. From the precarious frozen waters of Russia’s Lake Baikal to Miami in the throes of Hurricane Irma to Venezuela’s mighty Angel Falls, water is Aquarela’s main character, with director Victor Kossakovsky capturing her many personalities in startling visual detail.”

The Hottest August

“A complex portrait of a city and its inhabitants, The Hottest August gives us a window into the collective consciousness of the present. The film’s point of departure is one city over one month: New York City and its outer boroughs during August 2017. It’s a month heavy with the tension of a new President, growing anxiety over everything from rising rents to marching white nationalists, and unrelenting news of either wildfires or hurricanes on every coast. The film pivots on the question of futurity: what does the future look like from where we are standing? And what if we are not all standing in the same place? The Hottest August offers a mirror onto a society on the verge of catastrophe.”


PS – What happens when the festival is over?

As you might have guessed, a festival as large as SXSW produces a lot of waste. Luckily, that’s where the Austin Materials Marketplace steps in. Each year they work closely with the festival to make things like leftover plywood, furniture, and foam core signage available to the public. If you’d like to get your hands on some of these materials you can sign up to get notified via their email list here.

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