Dede’s Green Scene: And the Oscar Goes to…. SUSTAINABILITY! by Dede Tabak, February 15 2020, 57 Comments

On Sunday, February 8, the 92nd Academy Awards aired, recognizing the top films, actors, and creators of the year. This year the award show also acknowledged the growing concern about climate change by Hollywood and the world.  In recent years, there has been a growing awareness that the food we eat and clothes we wear have a direct impact on our environment. The celebrities in Hollywood are no exception. Many Hollywood actors are using their star power to raise awareness of climate change and actions we can take to address it. The awards shows have followed suit and the Academy Awards were no exception.

Earlier this year, the Academy issued a statement addressing its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint stating:

“The Academy is an organization of storytellers from around the world, and we owe our global membership a commitment to supporting the planet. For the past decade, the Academy has been committed to reducing its carbon footprint. For the past seven years, the Oscars show has had a zero-carbon imprint. We continue to expand our sustainability plan with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral.”

The Academy also announced this year that plastic water bottles and plastic containers would be eliminated from all Oscar events. The Oscars also followed in the footsteps of the Golden Globes, SAG and the Critics’ Choice Awards which all served vegan, plant-based dinners. Although the Oscars doesn’t serve dinner during the ceremony, the Academy Awards Nominee lunch this year was entirely plant-based, featuring vegan cheese, roasted mushrooms, black rice and squash. Also, at the Governor’s Ball immediately after the Academy Awards, the dinner was 70% plant-based and all the food was responsibly sourced and sustainably farmed.

Why did all of these award shows decide to make changes this year? One of the main catalysts for increased sustainability and awareness was a push from best actor nominee (The Joker) and winner Joaquin Phoenix. In the past, Phoenix, a long-time vegan and animal rights activist, hasn’t hid his general negativity towards award shows. This year, though, he decided to use his position as a nominee to raise awareness for various environmental and sociopolitical issues. He spearheaded an effort to turn this season's awards shows vegan, beginning with the Golden Globes. In Phoenix’s Golden Globes acceptance speech, he thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press for its "very bold move making tonight plant-based. It really sends a powerful message." Soon after, the Critics' Choice,  SAG awards and the Oscars all followed suit.

Phoenix and other celebrities have been using this award season to advocate for conscious consumerism. Phoenix wore a custom-made sustainable and eco-conscious suit made by Stella McCartney, and he wore it to every award show this year. The BAFTAs actually requested, and encouraged, those attending to re-wear old red-carpet gowns or rent outfits to be more eco-conscious. Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) recycled part of her BAFTA Gucci dress into a new dress for the awards. Actress Elizabeth Banks partnered with RAD (Red carpet ADvocacy), a group that’s trying to bring critical awareness to the importance of sustainability in fashion and consumerism, and wore a red Badgley Mischka dress that she wore to the Vanity Fair Oscar party back in 2004. Academy Award nominee Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood,) opted to wear a vintage 1994 Chanel couture dress instead of having a new gown made this year. Donning a more sustainable outfit, actor Timothee Chalamet wore a jacket and pants made from Prada’s re-nylon fashion line which showcases clothing made from recycled ocean plastics, fishing nets and textile fiber waste.

Kaitlyn Dever and Lea Seydoux were this year’s ambassadors for the Red Carpet Green Dress Initiative, which has been promoting ethical, sustainable fashion at the Oscars for eleven years. Elena Adnreicheva, who won an Academy Award that night for Best Documentary, wore a Laura Basci gown made from exclusive RCGD and Temel Luxe sustainable textiles. The Red Carpet Green Dress Initiative was conceived by Suzy Amis Cameron as a way to raise awareness to the importance of more sustainable practices in fashion and participate in bringing those solutions to the global market.

Jane Fonda, who has been making headlines over the last several months with her climate change activisim, presented the Best Picture award to the South Korean thriller and comedy Parasite on Sunday. Following suit with other stars of the evening, she wore a red, long-sleeve Ellie Saab gown she previously wore at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. She posted on her Instagram that she wore Pomellato jewelry which is ethically responsible mined gold and sustainable diamonds. While she presented. Fonda also had her now famous red coat from Fire Drill Fridays on her arm, a piece of clothing she had previously proclaimed was the last she will ever buy.

This year’s award shows may be at an end, but it seems that Hollywood’s trend of turning the red carpet green, in order to bring awareness to climate change, is here to stay. As Phoenix said in his Oscar acceptance speech for best actor,

“But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many of us in this room, is the opportunity to use our voice to the voiceless.”

“We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.”