By Paige Donner
“Green Is Green,” is the current mantra voiced by Hollywood studios.
Hot on the heels of An Inconvenient Truth star Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize win for his climate campaign came the Hollywood Goes Green conference, held Dec. 11-12 by iHollywood Forum.
NBC/Universal is singing its own green tune with its new Green Is Universal branding and was quick to point out that Evan Almighty was a green production. The industry appears to be in uniform agreement that energy efficiency, sustainability and conservation are not just good for the environment but also good for their long-term bottom line and excellent for brand imaging.
“Brands don’t want to be implicated in doing something wrong ecologically. It makes good business sense to protect your brand,” said Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council.
Within the wide scope of the entertainment industry, greening initiatives can be top-down, bottom-up and also laterally implemented. For example, for his Ocean’s series, director Steven Soderbergh chose construction materials, lighting and air-conditioning for his films that would minimize greenhouse gasses.
“The idea is to make commerce ecologically intelligent,” said Hershkowitz. “If we could make commerce ecologically healing, then people could buy their products with impunity. The idea is to shift our economy towards ecologically intelligent production processes.” Hershkowitz is proud that NRDC has helped the Oscars, the Emmys and now the Grammys go green.
Going green does not mean supplying green M&Ms in the green room, quipped a panelist. What can individuals do? “Buy recycled paper, double-side your scripts and office documents, recycle paper, reduce paper use—that’s big!” said Hershkowitz. Paper use is the third-largest generator of global warming pollution.
“Paper industry impacts are diverse and meaningful–it’s biodiversity, water, forests, global warming–and anything that you can do to reduce those impacts is valuable,” said Hershkowitz. For example, Brad Pitt committed to purchasing 15,000 greeting cards from ReProduct—a paper company whose materials are 100-percent re-used—for his Make It Right charitable organization focused on rebuilding the ninth Ward in New Orleans.
Actor Ed Begley Jr. advised everyone to buy recycled goods: “We have that opportunity in Hollywood. We can buy recycled products in high volume. Use bio-diesel to run generators on the set.”
“Another thing everyone can do is re-use water bottles,” said Shelly Billik, VP of environmental initiatives for Warner Bros. “Get a water container for your personal use you can continuously refill.” Plastic bottles have a huge environmental impact when you factor in the oil extraction used to manufacture them and the transportation costs, said Billik.
Josh Mark, executive director of special event production, Fox Broadcasting, suggests using living plants instead of cut flowers, something he implemented for last year’s Emmys. He advises using bio-degradable flatware and cutlery on sets, buying organic, locally produced food, closing elephant doors to reduce wastage of air conditioning, using no incandescent lights, and turning off the computers at night.
“Greening is a human issue. It’s not just about global warming, it’s also about our health,” said Lauren Selman, founder of Reel Green Media. Selman consults for film and TV productions on how to orient towards sustainability. All too often, she says, the wood used on sets is thrown away or burned. She cites Toronto-based SetReset.com as a company specializing in the re-use and re-sale of sets and decor that have been struck.
Other signs of progress:
– Hair designer Nina Paskowitz, who has worked on such films as The Heartbreak Kid and Miss Congeniality 2, has opened an organically driven hair design company, EcoCut.
– Payroll company Entertainment Partners recently appointed environmental advocate Elsie W. Lau as chair of its Go Green initiative.
– Chemical company Akzo Nobel has developed a cleaner bleach called Dissolvine for the UL-Bleach process in film.
Written by Paige Donner