The Oscars have gone green, – not green with envy – but rather “eco-green.” The largest, star-studded event in Hollywood has an environmental conscience.
It all began in 2007 when late producer Laura Zislin partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to find ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the infamous awards show.
“It was really the right time to green the Oscars. Certainly with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth being nominated [in 2007]. It was great. He won an Oscar before he won the Nobel Peace Prize, so the effect of the message of environmental sustainability that came out of the Oscars was huge! I mean, there’s Leonardo DiCaprio showing up in a hybrid. All that affected the American consciousness. Suddenly, it became cool to be green,” said actor and environmental advocate Ed Begley Jr. in a discussion with Gale Anne Hurd, CEO and producer of Valhalla Entertainment.
That same year, Leonardo DiCaprio - an NRDC trustee and nominee for Best Actor – said that “For the first time in the history of the Oscars, environmentally intelligent practices have been thoughtfully integrated into the planning of tonight’s event to make our world healthier and help combat the threat of global warming.”
Joining the conversation with Hurd and Begley Jr., senior scientist at the NRDC Allen Hershkowitz says that he remembers “the first year we changed the toilet paper. And we had these little framed FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] statements in the bathrooms. I stood there watching Jack Nicholson washing his hands and reading our sign.”
Begley, says that everything at the Oscars is sustainable: “[t}here is nothing that is disposable—from the cloth napkins and tablecloths to the plates and cutlery. I’m vegan, and [eating’s] never been a problem for me. It’s one of the greenest galas I’ve ever been to.” Hershkowitz praises the culinary menu that is served at the official Oscar’s after-party, the Governor’s Ball: “(a)ll the food is organic and as local as possible. Wolfgang Puck is among the best concessionaires in food and beverage in terms of being green. All the food preparation is collected for composting or for food donation—at least the uneaten portions.”
The Oscars has been meticulously planned down to the finest detail, with the intention of leaving the smallest footprint on the planet as possible. From the replacement of halogen lighting, using lights with timer switches, drinking water from glasses instead of plastic bottles, using recyable materials, and if they can figure out how not to wrinkle the celebrity gowns, are willing to trade in the limousines for hybrid cars, the academy has gone eco-friendly.
Hershkowitz explains that “The cultural visibility of the Oscars is enormous. It gives a certain validation, a cultural shift in the way people are thinking about the planet. It’s a multiplatform event. When you talk about “greening,” you are reviewing all your operations, your vendors, and your supply chains with an eye toward reducing environmental impact. So the Oscars set the bar. For example, the red carpet used to be petroleum based. Now it is created from 100 percent recyclable plastic bottles. The show is now powered by fuel cells, not diesel generators.”
Even famous designers such as Stella McCartney, daughter of the legendary singer, and musician Paul McCartney, are designing clothes that are vegan friendly, by not using any animal products in her fabrics.
“Environmental sustainability is about awareness,” explains Hurd. “By announcing this initiative from such a legendary and respected stage, the Academy is reaching tens-of-millions of people across the world with a message that cleaner, more sensible energy choices and a simple commitment to environmental stewardship are Oscar-worthy endeavors for everyone,” said NRDC president Frances Beinecke.
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