2012 in Review: Crunching the Numbers

Written by Ellen Burris | Friday, Jun 1, 2012

We finally have the reports back from our 2012 programs and projects, and overall the numbers look great. The programs that have been around were better than ever this year, and the new ones went well enough that we plan on repeating them in 2013. Here is a brief recap of some of the more prominent, and newest, efforts.

Woman on bench in Green Zone at SXSWPhoto by Margaret Licarione

The Green Zone, sponsored by Whole Foods Market

With the help of Ecology Action, Austin's local downtown recycling center, the 2012 Green Zone proved to be a success in more ways than one. In just over four days, nearly 20,000 visitors passed through this sustainable oasis, refilling an astounding 1,212 gallons of water to prevent the sale and waste of 9,600 plastic bottles. Only 80 pounds of trash was sent to the landfill, and a whopping 7,410 pounds of recyclables were collected and sorted. Over 10,000 cell phones were charged using 100% solar powered energy, all the while native plants and flowers provided a lovely aesthetic to the environmentally conscious lounge. All of the furniture, plants and planters were donated to local schools and community gardens upon SXSW's completion.

Auditorium Shores and Palm Park Trash Diversion

At Auditorium Shores, SXSW's largest venue, we teamed up with Texas Disposal Systems and the City of Austin's Austin Resource Recovery to divert 57.68% of the trash from going to the landfill. 2.34 tons of that was compost and 5.4 tons was recycling. At Palm Park, an outdoor Interactive campus, 76% of the refuse was diverted from the landfill in the form of 4,680 pounds of recycling, and 200 pounds of compost. Combined, that is 20,360 pounds of waste that did not end up in the landfill!

Man on SXCycle Photo courtesy of J.W. Walthall


2012 saw the creation of SXSW's first ever bike share program, SXcycles. According to many members of the bike industry, SXcycles was one of the largest free bike shares ever executed in the country. Open to all Film, Interactive, Gold and Platinum registrants, this program provided free bicycles for daily use courtesy of HBO's newest series, GIRLS. These Tern folding Link D8 bicycles were seen all over the city during SXSW Film and Interactive, and proved to be a much more fun, easy and eco friendly alternative for getting around downtown. During the beautiful Austin weather, all 150 bikes were checked out within two hours of opening! As SXSW programming grows to include more satellite campuses, we hope that SXcycles will play an integral role in helping registrants get where they need to go.

ABIA Badge Recycling Program

This was another new program for 2012. SXSW Eco partnered with Austin Bergstrom International Airport to initiate a badge-recycling program for the this year's conference. At each security point there were containers in which to recycle your badge pocket for us to re-use at another SXSW conference. This project was approved fairly late in the game, but even so we received over 400 badge pockets back! Not bad for our first time around with this experiment. We are really looking forward to continuing this program, and reporting next year's numbers.