This story has been updated with breaking news about the greening of the Oscars. See below for details.

Matt Petersen with Salma Hayek

Matt Petersen and Salma Hayek at Global Green’s pre-Oscar bash.
Photo: Global Green

Last year’s Academy Awards were a veritable green fest, what with Inconvenient Truth‘s multiple wins and the Gore/Leo announcement about the Oscars officially going green (albeit via carbon offset). Green itself could have gotten its own award — perhaps for its role as "the new black."

This year, however, things are … different. For one, green didn’t quite make the nominee cut (sorry, Leo). But there also hasn’t been much press about green efforts at the event itself. Plenty wonders if that’s due to the green backlash last year (cross-country flights and all) or maybe the focus on the writers’ strike.

The Oscar website has a green page with mention of a partnership with NRDC and a list of tips — though it’s unclear how they’ve been incorporated into efforts to reduce Oscar’s tiny gold ecological footprint. The wording is quite vague:

This year, the Academy, the Oscar telecast producer Laura Ziskin and the entire production team endeavored to select supplies and services with a sensitivity toward reducing the threats we face from global warming, species extinction, deforestation, toxic waste, and hazardous chemicals in our water and food.

One news source reports that GM is providing some of its vehicles-of-questionable-greenness for red-carpet arrivals, including a fuel-cell SUV, a hybrid SUV, and a flex-fuel SUV — quite the threesome!

Thanks to the continuing efforts of Global Green and others, however, there will also be some greener options, like eco-limos and Priuses.

Speaking of Global Green, the star-studded org once again "toasted Hollywood’s commitment to the environment" (whatever that might be) at its 5th annual pre-Oscar party. The event featured organic cocktails served under ecofriendly lighting, as well as B-list celebs offering cheesy one-liners like "[I’d] never date someone who isn’t into green living."

It’s all for a good cause, though, says event spokesperson Ruben Aronin, even if it leaves a "sizable carbon footprint" itself:

"As a fundraiser, the dollars that are raised are helping us dramatically to reduce carbon footprints across the country through our work to green New Orleans and create a green-building infrastructure here in Los Angeles," he said. "We have the unique opportunity here in Hollywood to use the megaphone of celebrity to inspire and educate hundreds of millions of people around the world."

Oscar doesn’t seem to be working to make the main event just as "inspirational" and "educational" as the Global Green party — but I’ve got some calls in to find out what’s going on behind the scenes. Let’s hope, at least, that Sunday night will be less hirsute

Update [2008-2-22 10:59:0 by Sarah van Schagen]:

I just spoke with Michael Kadish, the communications director at Terrapass (the company that provided carbon offsets in the gift bags last year). Said Kadish, “We were thrilled to be part of the event last year, but there was always an understanding that this was a one-time deal.” Something about the Academy not wanting to give out the same gifts twice … Um, haven’t they ever heard of recycling?

I also heard back from NRDC, the aforementioned greening partner, and they are apparently announcing some news about the partnership at 2 p.m. PST. So check back then for more details.

Update [2008-2-22 14:29:43 by Sarah van Schagen]:

Well, it’s just after 2 p.m. PST, so I’ve got an update for you. (Waiting with bated breath, have you?) I received a mysterious email from “Natalie” (no last name, no title/credentials) with an NRDC link to last year’s green efforts (PDF) and this statement “We intend to proceed in a similar manner for the 80th Awards …” Helpful.

Poking around on the Oscar site, though, I believe I’ve found the much-anticipated press release. Here are the details:

“Last year, in planning and producing the Oscar show, we chose supplies, resources and services designed to reduce Oscar’s ecological footprint,” said [Academy President Sid] Ganis. “This year, with the guidance and support of the NRDC, we’ve been able to do even more.”

A few highlights of the Academy’s green program include:

  • With support from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, 100 percent of the energy used for the telecast, the red-carpet arrivals show and the Governors Ball will be supplied by renewable windpower.
  • All of the generators used for the production, for press support and the red carpet arrivals area are powered by a fuel mix that includes biodiesel.
  • Among the vehicles made available by General Motors for use by production staff and presenters are zero-emission hydrogen-powered cars and hybrids.
  • Food serviceware for all events associated with the Awards Presentation is either reusable or biodegradable/compostable.
  • The programs, invitations, RSVP cards, envelopes, parking passes and other printed materials include a minimum of 30 percent postconsumer recycled content.

Eh, at least they’re continuing what they started last year and have added new initiatives to that. The 100-percent-wind-powered part of it is pretty exciting.

From what I’ve heard talking to musicians, actors, and other celeb-types, it’s really difficult to get the green ball rolling in these huge industries. But as more big-timers like these guys pressure their suppliers and partners to provide green services, the more those supplies and services will be available for others. So, I guess what I’m saying is … I’d like to thank the Academy. Ahem.

Update [2008-2-22 16:52:20 by Sarah van Schagen]:

I promise this is the last update. Official press releases from NRDC and the Academy hit my inbox about an hour ago. They reflect a few tiny changes in what I mentioned above — adding in a cushion with wording like “nearly all” or “the majority of.” But most helpful is the updated PDF (five pages!) of green initiatives at this year’s Oscars. Happy reading, and enjoy the show!