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Allen Hershkowitz

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Greening the Grammys: It All Adds Up

Posted: 02/12/2012 3:08 pm

When it comes to the functional integrity of the biosphere, small things matter. Indeed, it is the small things in the global ecosystem that keep Homo sapiens and other forms of life alive. Ants produce soil. Bees pollinate a third of all the food we eat.

Similarly, it is the small daily purchases that we make day-in and day-out that add up to global market demand, and it is the characteristics of market demand that instigates -- or helps reduce global ecological pressures.

For example, the estimated 90 million tons of global warming pollution emitted every day does not come from just a few large sources but from contributions made by millions of emitters, large and small, each adding up to a problem that has become nothing less than a planetary emergency.

The bottom line: However small your day-to-day actions may seem, our collective purchases can add up to meaningful regional and global impacts.

Indeed, all we can do is relatively small things, whether taking mass transit or riding a bike, buying products made with recycled content, driving a fuel-efficient car, conserving water. There is no one single act that we can undertake that is significant enough by itself to solve our ecological crises.

It is with this fact in mind, that everyone has to do something, however small it is, to reduce their ecological footprint and that no one single entity or law can solve our diverse ecological crises, that we should appreciate the value of the Grammys environmental initiative that the Natural Resources Defense Council launched five years ago with Recording Academy of Music Arts and Sciences, and which NRDC continues to oversee.

By itself, the Grammys telecast does not instigate major ecological impacts. But each and every procurement decision, and all operations, are reviewed with an eye towards reducing the event's ecological footprint. Needless to say, not everything can be done, at least not yet. Cost considerations limit some of our options. Nevertheless, the paper products and other supplies that were bought and the services procured were selected with sensitivity toward reducing the threats we face from global warming, species extinction, deforestation, toxic waste, and hazardous chemicals in our water and food. Some of the highlights from this year's initiative are below.

Energy -- The entire production of the live broadcast of the 54th GRAMMY Awards (16 MWh) is being powered by 100 percent renewable energy purchased through LADWP.

Food--The GRAMMY Celebration features reusable china and glassware. Most of the food serviceware used in the pre-telecast and for crew is biobased and compostable.

The menu created by Along Came Mary for the GRAMMY Celebration includes locally grown and produced meat, produce and cheese. All seafood is sustainably produced. Leftover edible food from the Celebration is donated to local food banks. All cooking oil used for the GRAMMY Celebration will be recycled.

Waste & Recycling--Waste Management is providing reusable recycling bins throughout Los Angeles Convention Center for the pre-telecast and the official after party. Plastic, aluminum, bottles, and paper are being collected for recycling at both LACC and the STAPLES Center throughout the weekend. STAPLES Center will recycle all glass, paper, and cooking oils, and compost food scraps. Organic waste from the Celebration will be removed for composting.

Corks will be recycled at the Celebration After-Party and MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute.

Paper--All incoming ticketing requests were processed electronically. Many GRAMMY Week invitations and RSVPs were electronic this year, eliminating the printing of 700 invitations and envelopes.

Most paper products (envelopes, letterhead, posters, etc.) were printed on paper containing 50-100% postconsumer recycled content.

Décor--Most furniture/set pieces on stage are rentals and reusable.

Transportation--In partnership with RideAmigos, The Recording Academy is sponsoring a ridesharing program for awards attendees.

Education--NRDC provided volunteers who assisted crew, STAPLES staff and media representatives with information about The Recording Academy's environmental initiative and interacted with guests and staff about environmental issues.

The GRAMMY's telecast might not have a big ecological impact, but it certainly has a large cultural impact. The GRAMMYs is among the most widely watched TV shows. And the music industry in general is a global multi-billion dollar business, so its embrace of environmentalism helps send a meaningful and urgent signal to other businesses that in the 21st century, environmental criteria must be part of every business decision.