Search & Replace S03E20: Jed Regante

Jed Regante’s journey from a traditional law career to championing rainwater harvesting in drought-prone Texas reflects a powerful blend of environmental consciousness and resilience. Jed made a significant career shift, focusing on rainwater harvesting. He emphasizes the critical importance of water resources and discusses the urgency of addressing climate change, urging everyone to become climate activists at the local level. Discover how Jed creates resiliency within communities and drives policy change for a sustainable future on Search and Replace.

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode.  

[00:00:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if your dream job involves a skill that’s been practiced for thousands of years, but it requires you to apply a modern twist? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

Jed Regante has an unusual business, but it’s the kind of business he hopes will become way less unusual over time. Let’s go back to when he was thinking about what to study in college.  

[00:00:38] Jed Regante: I’ve always loved nature. I’ve always loved being outdoors. I’ve always loved camping. So I think probably, and it’s just my connection with nature that brought me to a place where caring about the environment mattered. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking about my kids when I was 17, but it’s evolved into that. It’s about taking care of what we’ve got and keeping it for the next generation.  

I remember, like, a coming of age in college where I started to understand the problems more and started to think about what solutions were. And I mean, it’s almost embarrassing how naive I was about things back then. I had a book, 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth, and reading that book, I just sort of took everything to heart.  

[00:01:35] Joe Taylor Jr.: And while Jed’s education moved him down the path to a very traditional law degree, he kept thinking about the ways he could reduce our negative impact on the planet. 

[00:01:45] Jed Regante: The first couple steps I took were in waste management. It’s very expensive to ore, to mine, for aluminum, bauxite. It’s very expensive to pull it out of the ground and make aluminum cans. It’s very inexpensive to take an aluminum can and recycle it into more aluminum. So it just made sense to me, from an economic perspective as well as an environmental perspective. It has always been through trying to marry the economics of a situation to the environmental impact. 

I did not pursue environmental law. I just didn’t. The other side of environmental law, I mean, working for the wrong side, working for a corporation to try to circumvent regulation. And then the third leg of that stool is administrative law. So there was working in government. And I didn’t really have any opportunities to do that. So I never really took the law as a pathway to environmental work. It just never presented itself.  

[00:02:43] Joe Taylor Jr.: Before long, Jed wasn’t just avoiding getting involved in environmental law. He chose to stop practicing law altogether. But he couldn’t shake loose everything he learned.  

[00:02:54] Jed Regante: I really married the interests once I decided I didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore. When I decided, I was actually a lobbyist for a period of time. And just saw how government worked and realized that I was going to make an impact. I was going to have to figure out a way to create revenue while doing it. That seemed to be the right path. And so even though some of my early construction work, I went from being a lawyer to going into construction and adding rainwater harvesting systems. 

But my early work wasn’t as environmentally focused because there just wasn’t a big desire for it. It was only through years of working with similarly interested people who had ideas about how we could, if not revolutionize at least, contribute to the evolution of construction. To make it what we used to call greener, these days we would use resiliency in the current nomenclature. 

[00:03:55] Joe Taylor Jr.: Jed teams up with construction clients who want to ensure their buildings don’t have to depend on rapidly depleting groundwater sources.  

[00:04:03] Jed Regante: I realized that I wanted to do more construction again, and that’s how the rainwater harvesting got started. I moved to Texas. And we came at a time with a pretty deep drought and immediately I recognized that, in the state of Texas, the water resource was going to be the most important resource to focus on. Because without water you have nothing. You simply can’t live.  

The city of Blanco has got a water crisis, they’re at stage four drought restrictions and they haven’t got an adequate water source for their public water supply. How does the city adapt to its new reality that it doesn’t have enough water? There’s no silver bullets here. But one of those solutions is incentivizing rainwater harvesting or potentially mandating it in their development process. Right now, I feel like water is extremely important and it’s what I’m focused on.  

[00:05:02] Joe Taylor Jr.: It’s that focus on preserving and harvesting water that has Jed thinking critically about what humans have to do, and soon, to restore balance in their relationship with the planet.  

[00:05:14] Jed Regante: Until very recently, I would have considered myself a climate optimist. We can still do this. It’s in this last six months, the data sets that are coming out of climate science are so devastatingly bad that I have maybe turned the corner to becoming a climate pessimist.  

I’m starting to wonder what it is going to take to get society to commit to the steps that are necessary to creating a sustainable habitat for human beings. I think we may have crossed a tipping point and, like it or not, even if we got to net zero today we’re still going to see rising heat in the environment, and that is having impacts all over the place.  

I think at the local level, everybody has to be a climate activist now. So, my strategy now is to figure out how to be adaptable on a community level. What can I do for my home, my neighborhood, to try to create within our own communities as much resiliency as we can. And then the rest is up to policy. 

Let’s use a sports metaphor; we’re in the bottom of the ninth and we’ve got two strikes against us and this is it. This is our last chance at bat and we are down in the game. So what are we going to do right now? What can each of us do?  

I don’t have the answer for everyone. I know that I am redoubling my efforts to do the things that I do, and I hope that everyone else will do that, too.  

Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Jed Regante, founder of Hill Country Rainwater in Wimberley, Texas. We’ve got links to Jed’s work and a list of other resources you can use to conserve water. Those are in our show notes and on our website at  

Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.  

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. 

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Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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