And the Oscar goes to…Planet Earth?

By Jill Serjeant and Jane Ross

From plant-based meals to repeat tuxedos and water bottle bans, Hollywood has come to embrace sustainability in an awards season usually known for excess.

Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars are now turning words into action on red carpets and at gala dinners as they crisscross the United States for award shows and appearances.


Dinners at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice Awards in January served up vegan fare. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has banned plastic water bottles at all Oscar events. They have also said that all food served at the events will be sustainably farmed.

“Consuming animals is no longer just a personal choice. It has a drastic and vast consequence on the rest of the world and all of us,” said Joaquin Phoenix. The “Joker” best actor nominee is a lifelong vegan who encouraged organizers of the Golden Globes to switch to an entirely plant-based menu for the first time.

Others are ditching planes and private jets for electric or hybrid cars as they travel to festivals around the world.

“Stranger Things” actor Brett Gelman is among those who say that they plan to review their lifestyles. “I plan to change a great deal in my diet, and the way I use energy, composting, the way I purchase clothing. … I’m certainly not taking any private jets,” Gelman told reporters last month.

Inspired by teen activist Greta Thunberg, Jane Fonda is bringing her Fire Drill Fridays climate change protest from Washington to Los Angeles, two days before next Sunday’s Oscar ceremony.

To be sure, there is still a way to go. While celebrity gift bags this season include items like a “self-watering, self-fertilizing farmstand,” they also offer cruises on luxury yachts.

Last month, guests at the MusiCares gala dinner were served steak and chicken on the same plate. At the Critics’ Choice Awards in January, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” actress Alex Borstein quipped that she planned to head to a steak house after the vegan dinner served.


Anti-climate change group Extinction Rebellion planned a protest at the famous Hollywood sign on the eve of the Academy Awards, aimed at persuading the entertainment industry to do more.

“Some stars of Hollywood are aware of the scale of the climate crisis, and some have started to take action. … But we do not believe that Hollywood as a whole has taken an acceptable stance on the climate crisis,” the group said in a statement announcing the protest.

“There is no Hollywood on a dead planet,” the group added.

Daniel Hinerfeld, director of content partnerships at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the publicity around initiatives like vegan dinners “shows the power that Hollywood has to start conversations, to set trends, and to shift attitudes.”

He urged the industry to do more and to use its storytelling powers to highlight climate change.

“We need to see more film and TV that deals with all of the incredibly complicated, dramatic and potentially comedic aspects of climate change,” Hinerfeld said.


Red carpet fashion is next to catch up, led by designers like Jean Paul Gaultier, who are inspiring change in the fashion world. In January, Gaultier’s Paris retirement show featured upcycled haute couture, including skirts made out of silk ties.

Joaquin Phoenix, who has won a slew of awards this year, won kudos in January for his plans to stick with the same tuxedo throughout the season.

“He chooses to make choices for the future of the planet. He has also chosen to wear this same tux for the entire award season to reduce waste,” tweeted designer Stella McCartney, who provided the tux.

It is not yet certain whether other stars will follow suit, or choose recycled gowns for the world’s biggest red carpet at the Oscars.

Rising New York-based designer Daniel Silverstein, who creates clothing from remnants and scraps, says he has not so far had any red carpet approaches for his Zero Waste Daniel label. However, he plans to give A-listers the benefit of the doubt.

“People in Hollywood and the music industry are fanatical about using ethical beauty products. So I am sure there is a lot of sustainability under the surface that we don’t even realize,” he said.

“What I would hope to see more of is people with a platform using their opportunity to talk about their personal style and to change the conversation.”


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