SXSW 2012: Going Green--inBloom

Are you searching for a great organic café? Do you want to support green businesses, but just aren’t sure where they are? The inBloom app, currently available on iTunes, makes it easy to search for them. Unveiled at SXSW’s interactive showcase, inBloom is the brainchild of musicians Andy Ross (OK Go) and Eytan Oren (Eytan and the Embassy). Eytan spoke about inBloom and other projects on tap.

Could you tell me a bit about the genesis of the app? I understand it was originally created to help bands tour sustainably.

I run an organization which I started called Musicians Energy Conservation Alliance [MECA]. We have a variety of projects where we try to help bands tour in a more sustainable way. This was initially a good way for them to find alternatives to typical fast food like McDonald’s. I think there were a lot of bands out there that would love to find alternatives but just didn’t know where to go.

There are two versions of the app. What are the main differences?

For a brief period of time there were two and then we decided it would be a lot simpler to figure out how to combine them. So we had one version for bands and one version for everyone else and we folded the band one into the overall one. The only difference is that for bands there’s an extra layer of discounts so they can actually log in and say that they’re a member of MECA. And MECA has restaurant partners across the country that help make it more affordable for musicians to eat at sustainable restaurants, so they will see extra discounts on top of what other users will see with the app.

So far does it just list restaurants or other green-friendly businesses?

It lists a lot of different businesses, actually. You have restaurants, you have farmer’s markets, you have grocery stores, you have biodiesel stops, electric charging, you have eco-friendly clothing stores, vintage and thrift shops. But basically, we really try to make it comprehensive in terms of businesses that are environmentally friendly and show really specific information so you can see which businesses are powered by renewable energy near you.

How was MECA formed?

Essentially the seed of that idea was that I find that there’s a lot of very famous, popular bands out there that are touring in a more environmentally friendly [way]….And I think that there’s a certain sense for bands at a more mid- or beginner level in terms of income with music, that they would like to do something but they weren’t really sure what to do or they felt that greening your tour was something only big bands could afford to do or logistically figure out how to do.

We’re launching the whole bunch of other projects that we’re really excited about….basically helping raise money to subsidize venues so that they can switch over to running on renewable energy and then we have another program that we’re working on that helps basically incentivize fans to take mass transit to concerts.

And do you hope that maybe MECA can interest the fans in sustainability and similar issues?

Absolutely. I actually think that in a certain sense, if you look at the numbers, it’s almost the most important piece of the puzzle, because fans’ travel, statistically, is actually the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to carbon footprint. And band travel is actually just a small sliver. And band food and things like that. If you crunch the numbers, that’s a small piece of it. But I think it’s important that, as a foundation, bands get their house in order before they start helping their fans.

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