Your Ultimate Eco Guide To SXSW


The biggest festival of the year is back in Austin and between all of the parties, panel discussions, and events, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide what to actually attend. That’s why we’ve spent hours pouring over the full SXSW schedule and selecting the very best in eco-related programming.

Check out our full list below and enjoy SXSW!

Free Events/ Non Badge-Holders

Films For The Forest

Don’t have a SXSW badge and still want to get in on the fun? Check out the Rainforest Partnership’s 9th Annual Films For The Forest on Sunday, March 11th at 5pm at the Rollins Theatre in the Long Center.

Films for the Forest (F3) is an annual international short film challenge with goal of creating awareness about the importance of tropical rainforests and the ongoing threats faced by forests and their communities, all through the powerful medium of film.

This year’s theme is “Because The World Can’t Wait.” Filmmakers who entered the competition were challenged to create films that inform and inspire us to take action now.

You can watch all of the films for free without a SXSW badge. Just be sure to arrive early because the seats will fill up fast! More info>>Films For The Forest 2018


Wellness Expo

March 10th – March 11th at the Palmer Events Center

For the first time, SXSW now includes a Wellness Expo and it’s completely free and open to the public (with a Guest Pass). The exhibition brings together thousands of festival attendees to interact with health and wellness companies focused on everything from exercise to healthy diets.

SXSW Wellness Expo
SXSW Wellness Expo – Photo by Nicky Lockman

Hungry for even more free SXSW activities? A full list is available here.

For Badge-Holders

(The listings are sorted by subject matter tracks)

Film Festival

March 9th – March 17th

Even if you don’t have a SXSW badge, there is still a way to see SXSW films. Here’s how it works. For each screening, badge-holders get to enter first, but if there are still seats left over, tickets will be sold to the general public for $15 each, starting 15 minutes before the screening begins. You can check how full a screening is using this website.


From All Corners – Playing on March 10th, 12th, and 14th

A documentary about waste, why we throw things away, and the art of reuse.

They Live Here, Now – Playing on March 11th, 12th, and 14th

A documentary about Austin’s own Casa Marianella, a refugee house that provides life-saving services for thousands of immigrants each year. 

The Dawn Wall – Playing March 11th, 13th, 14th, and 15th

A documentary about two American rock climbers who captivated the world with their effort to climb The Dawn Wall, a seemingly impossible 3,000 foot rock face in Yosemite National Park, California. 

Greenland Melting – Playing on March 13th, 14th, and 15th

A virtual reality film that brings viewers to Greenland to better understand the effects of climate change, up close and personal.

Greenland Melting

Sanctuaries of Silence – Playing on March 13th, 14th, and 15th

A virtual reality film that takes viewers on an immersive listening journey into Olympic National Park, one of the quietest places in North America.

Sanctuaries of Silence



March 9th – 12th

SXSW Government
photo of Cory Booker, speaking at SXSW 2017

God Save Texas: The Lone Star State And Texas – March 9th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at the Hilton Austin Downtown Salon H

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Lawrence Wright will discuss the future of Texas and how it reflects the rest of the country.

God Save Texas

How To Bring Connected Vehicles To Your Town – March 12th from 2pm to 3pm at the Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G

Panelists from transit agencies across the country will discuss the rise of connected vehicle technology, how to prepare for it, and how it could change mobility in cities across the US. 

Mayors Disrupting Locally, Leading Globally – March 11th from 5pm to 6pm at the Hilton Austin Downtown Salon H

The mayors of Austin, New York, and Portland will discuss the ways they’re taking on some of our country’s biggest issues, from racial justice to infrastructure.

Primed For Amazon: Value and Cost of HQ2 For Cities – March 10th from 12:30pm to 1:30pm at the Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G

Mayors from the around the country will discuss their thoughts about Amazon’s search for a city to host its second headquarters, including ideas around community values and the real cost of economic development. Austin is currently one of the cities in the running for HQ2. 

Agile Activism: Big Change Starts At City Hall – March 10th from 2pm to 3pm at the Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G

Mayors from around the country will give their advice for building movements and creating change at the local level, around everything from social justice to climate change. 



March 9th – March 13th

SXSW Health
“Fitness & Fashion: Creating and Scaling Lifestyle Brands” Featured Session with Tyler Haney and Julia Boorstin at SXSW 2017 – Photo by Tyler Draker


How Real Food Can Change Your Life and the World – March 12th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at the Austin Convention Center in Room 9AB

Panelists will discuss the movement away from processed, packaged, shelf-stable goods to real food.

How Real Food Can Change The World

Making Health Equity A Reality – March 12th from 12:30pm to 1:30pm at the Austin Convention Center Room 9AB

Panelists will discuss ways to remove barriers to health, such as poverty, discrimination, and a lack of access to good jobs.

Making Health Equity A Reality

Your Zip Code: The Key To Health – March 10th from 5pm to 6pm at the Austin Convention Center Room 8ABC

Panelists will talk about how communities are improving their health by tackling the social determinants of health – the factors outside the doctor’s office that have the most impact on health and well-being. 


Social Impact

March 10th – March 14th

SXSW Social Impact
“Asian Americans Break the Silence and Stereotypes” Session at SXSW 2017 – Photo by Jon Currie

Answer With Action: A New Activism Platform – March 13th from 5pm to 6pm at the Westin Austin Downtown Continental 3

Speakers from Patagonia will be discussing their online platform that connects people with environmental organizations in their local community. 

Patagonia Action Works


Coal to Code: Reimagining A Disrupted Economy – March 13th from 9:30am to 10:30am at the Westin Austin Downtown Continental 1-2

Guest speakers will be talking about new initiatives to help communities at the front lines of economic disruption to develop the skills and resources they need to thrive in a 21st century economy. This includes a program that teaches coal miners how to become software developers. 

Coal To Code


Designing Urban Ocean Conservation – March 14th from 11am to noon at the Westin Austin Downtown Continental 1-2

Ocean conservation is not just about coral reefs and whales. With the human population at 7.6 billion, and the majority of us living in cities and on the coast, it’s time to figure out urban ocean conservation. That’s what the guest speakers will be talking about during this panel discussion.

Designing Urban Ocean Conservation


Saving Coral Reefs: One Pixel At A Time – March 10th from 12:30pm to 1:30pm

An estimated 90 percent of coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef sustained damage in a bleaching event in 2016, primarily due to higher water temps caused by global warming. This panel will explore how novel technology is being used to study coral reefs and inform conservation of these threatened ecosystems.

Saving Coral Reefs


Science, Society, and Ethics in a Post Truth World – March 13th from 11am to noon

Panelists will discuss the importance of improving science communication, so that science can be used equitably and ethically. 

Science Society and Ethics


Selling Science (Before The World Melts Down) – March 12th from 2pm to 3pm at the Westin Downtown Austin Continental 3

Guests speakers will talk about training scientists to draw on the power of story when communicating with the public. 

Selling Science

Cities Summit

March 12 – March 13th

New to SXSW, the Cities Summit track aims to bring together civic leaders “to learn, strategize and form coalitions to transform the cities of tomorrow.”

“Cities are on the front lines of change in our society. Cities are where the economic expansion, the new ideas, and the cultural advances happen, where we are making the necessary progress on climate change and where we show that inclusion and diversity are not burdens to tolerate but necessary ingredients for success and survival. Cities are not bubbles where we preserve the past. Cities are incubators of the future. There is nowhere this is more true than Austin, Texas, and that’s why I am so thrilled that SXSW will be hosting a Cities Summit.” – Austin Mayor Steve Adler

Cities Summit

Making Cities Inclusive, Equitable, And Sustainable – March 12th from 10:35 to 11am at the Four Seasons East Lawn

Panel discussing the need, the opportunities, and how to advance inclusive and equitable cities. Featuring the director of New York City’s Office of Sustainability.

How Cities Will Drive Autonomous Vehicles – March 12th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm in Four Seasons Ballroom AB

How can city leaders maximize the benefits and minimize the challenges of autonomous vehicles? Panel discussion featuring Rob Spillar, Transportation Director with the City of Austin 

Food As A Platform For Neighborhood Revitalization – March 12th from 5:15pm to 6pm in Four Seasons Ballroom CD

A session highlighting examples of how diverse communities are using food as a platform for creative neighborhood revitalization, through creative placemaking, enterprise development and improved access to healthy, affordable food.

food as a platform sxsw

Innovative Cities Against Climate Change – March 13th from 9:30am to 10:30am in Four Seasons Ballroom AB

A discussion about the intersection between tech innovation and climate innovation in cities. Featuring Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Google’s Lead For Sustainability, Kate Brandt.

Innovative Cities Against Climate Change

Overhead Transit: Cable, Hyperloop, PRT, and Drones – March 13th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm in Four Seasons Ballroom AB

Panel discussion examining technologies that can add mass transit in the sky. Featuring Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea

Overhead Transit

What Happened To Our Chocolate Cities? – March 13th from 3:55pm to 4:40 at the Four Seasons Ballroom CD

A look at gentrification in cities across the US, examining the challenge of improving a neighborhood without driving out the people who made it what it is.


March 12- March 14th

Chicon staff prepares food at a SouthBites private dinner with Jose Andres hosted by PRE – Photo by Merrick Ales

Plant-Based And Clean Meat Will Save The World – March 13th from 9:30am to 10:30am at the JW Marriott Salon AB

Four panelists on the cutting edge of food innovation will discuss their plans for reducing the world’s meat consumption without asking people to give up “meat” per se.

plant-based and clean meat will save the world

Re-Imagining How America Can Reduce Food Waste – March 13th from 5pm to 6pm at the JW Marriott Salon C

Panelists will discuss a movement being led by the chef community to help all of us re-imagine the food we’re about to throw into the trash as an opportunity for discovering new and exciting ways to eat.

Taking Mass Extinction Off The Seafood Menu – March 12th from 11am to noon at the JW Marriott Salon C

Over 90 percent of the world’s seafood stocks are depleted – and just three species are on nearly every restaurant menu. To save the seafood industry, a group of scientists and activists are trying to convince consumers to branch out from salmon, shrimp and tuna – and bring seafood back from the brink

Displaced Kitchens: Community Empowerment Via Food – March 13th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at JW Marriott Salon C

Guest speakers will discuss how Americans are mobilizing to fill the voids left by political inaction and challenging destructive policies affecting people from marginalized communities (race, religion, & gender). 

Displaced Kitchens



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