“Paper or Plastic? Social Media Can Restore Earth”

By Marcie Barnes

This is a live blog post from the talk entitled “Paper or Plastic? Social Media Can Restore Earth” at SXSW. Speaker is Michael Dungan Pres/CEO BeeDance

They are working to divert items from the waste stream esp. in the construction industry, and they are connecting the “waste makers” with artists, teachers etc. via  project called Zero Landfill in 25 US cities.

Biomimicry is an organizing principle as a design strategy – they looked at honeybees in order to learn how waste can be better managed/repurposed. Derived 30+ practices from honeybees and distilled them to 9 lessons:

• they work on a hyper-local basis: location-based & proximity-based apps are helping us be more like bees in this way
• they are motivated by the rules of attraction: they have finely tuned senses, they see strengths in nature
• they imprint and share knowledge: they share information and vote on issues as a matter of survival
• they are precise: can detect angles based on the sun and shadows
• they replicate best practices: the honeycomb is always the same and uniform and they use gravity to store honey and wax and build structures, which is one of the strongest shapes in nature
• they create value for multiple systems: they create additional transactions in the environment (pollenation) that is critical to food production
• they are regenerative: the queen is ousted when her egg production slows down – but she takes bees with her. Change for the positive, change for improvement
• they are diverse: monocultures are not good – things should not be grown in geographical “silos” – honey is made from diverse “crops”
• they are generous: they will make lots of honey given the right environment

How this applies to social media:

Two connections made via biomimicry:

• Inversion -  increasing value through a proprietary process (app)
• Forage – locating value bypassed by others (search)

Examples: Polyflow takes all types of plastics from the waste stream and makes fuels and chemicals out of it. The app will tell people the value of their “waste” plastic, and how much crude oil is diverted.

Zero Landfill creates a market for things that previously would have gone to the landfill. They have a mobile app to connect teachers and artists to manufacturers, etc.

We are literally throwing away high-value energy by throwing away plastic. When a factory discontinues things, a lot of waste is created. New value chains are created and behavior shifts.

Pinterest, Instagram, Highlight are important to the consumer, and they are acting like bees.




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