SXSW and the Rise of Cleanweb

Mar 11, 2012   //   by Bradley Short   //   Social Entrepreneurship, Technology, The Environment  //  No Comments

SXSW Interactive 2012 is off to a great start. Over the last few days, I’ve seen many fantastic panels and talked with interesting folks who are doing some really cool things in sustainability.

Last year, I was deeply interested in collaborative consumption.  The idea was that maximum economic value and environmental benefit would come when more and more people share the same physical goods was a hot topic.  This year, that same idea is really getting traction, but on a bigger scale.  Collaborative consumption has shown to be just a single element of a larger “cleanweb” which shows promise to be widely adopted as a much more efficient way for consumers and companies alike to share goods and services.


Behold the “cleanweb”

A session that Sunil Paul of Spring Ventures hosted went into detail about how the cleanweb is really creating some serious economic and environmental value.  He used examples like Zipcar and Airbnb to illustrate how large-scale adoption of these ideas is on the way.


Mass adoption is happening, now

These services are becoming increasingly popular.  In the last year, Airbnb usage has expanded five-fold, from about one million nights booked to over five million.  This creates more value for both the host and visitor.  And since a night stayed through Airbnb only creates about a third of the carbon emissions that a traditional hotel stay would, it has profound environmental benefits as well.


Not just for consumers

Another session I attended was about another cleanweb company, Recyclematch.  Recyclematch’s COO, Chad Farrell, explained how his company’s SaaS allows other businesses to work together to find value in their waste.  By facilitating the flow of information between businesses, Recyclematch uses the cleanweb to turn waste from a liability to an asset.


Economic opportunities in cleanweb for business

First of all, companies can utilize the cleanweb to reap benefits by simply using cleanweb services.  Since cleanweb work is necessarily valuable, companies can make or save money by spending less on transportation, or lodging, or waste disposal.  It’s fairly straightforward, as long as businesses are able to recognize these opportunities.

The other side of cleanweb’s opportunity lies in developing the technologies that comprise the cleanweb altogether.  This space is ripe for disruptive innovation.  Startups like the ones I’ve already listed are already reaping the benefits, but there is surely room for many more cleanweb successes.


More SXSW info to come

I’m about to head to an eco-startup launch competition, so I’m interested to see what new sustainable ideas emerge in cleanweb and elsewhere.  SXSW is the place where many “next big things” get started, and I’ll be on the front lines, broadcasting what looks like the next big thing in sustainability.  Be sure to follow BE on Twitter to keep up with what’s happening at SXSW Interactive 2012.

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