You couldn’t ask for a more illustrative Sign of the Times: rather than gift bags full of swag, this year’s Oscar presenters will be getting … carbon offsets.

Recently the IRS has cracked down on the notorious gift bags given out at awards shows. In some cases those bags contain up to $100K worth of free swag for celebrities. (And who needs free swag more than celebrities?) Partially in response, the Academy has decided to stop passing them out at the Oscars.

Instead, each presenter and performer at this year’s Oscars received a year’s worth of carbon offsets from TerraPass (enough to cover 100,000 lbs of CO2, roughly double the average American’s yearly output).

Two things will accompany the offsets. First this (from the press release, not yet online):

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The fight against climate change begins with personal conservation. Along with the gift, presenters will receive a booklet describing ways to reduce their personal energy and fuel use. TerraPass has offered to calculate a complete carbon footprint for each gift recipient. TerraPass will then help the gift recipient draw up a personalized list of emissions reduction strategies.

Here’s the booklet (PDF). I must say, it’s pretty slick, and clever. Well suited to its targeted audience. It won’t keep TerraPass safe from critics who accuse if of enabling celebs to feel OK about their enormous environmental footprints, but then again, what could?

Simon Pearce glass sculptureSecond, there’s this:

To commemorate the emissions reductions, Simon Pearce will provide each presenter with a beautiful hand blown glass sculpture. Long a champion of clean energy, Simon Pearce fuels its Vermont-based glass furnace with hydroelectric power.

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I’m not sure how a glass sculpture that looks like … well, you know what it looks like … came to be the second half of the Academy’s token of appreciation. Apparently it was selected by “gifting consultants” at Donum Elite Gifting. Who’s going to question the judgment of professional gift consultants?

Anyway, not bad: from bling bling to carbon offsets in the course of one year. Times they are a-changin’.