Plastic bottles are not glamorous. Though Smartwater and its disciples have done their best to streamline the image and make water bottles into yoga-evoking, electrolyte-containing accessories, most are, at the end of the day, kind of ugly.
You do not see Kate Winslet walking down the red carpet at the Academy Awards clutching a Dasani.
But in the 2011 award season, plastic bottles found their way into the spotlight after all.
Both the Grammys and the Oscars will be instituting several sustainable practices: The venues will serve organic food, and the live broadcasts will run exclusively on renewable energy, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Almost every aspect of the events is going green. And the red carpets, though still technically red, will be made from recycled water bottles.
It waxes a little stunted and superficial at first. A recyclable red carpet reads kitschy, not revolutionary. But as part of a larger trend, the impact of those water bottles is actually becoming tangible.
It’s been beaten to death that as go celebrities, so goes the nation. If Angelina Jolie likes philanthropy and large amounts of children, so do we. These days, it’s chic to volunteer.
Sustainable practices in high-profile events have been cropping up with increasing regularity across the nation.
Both the last Republican and Democratic National Conventions made a point of recycling and utilizing alternative energy. The 2010 Vancouver games were carbon neutral.
Super Bowl XLV was, thanks to off-sets, the greenest championship game in NFL history, though amid the deafening chants to “Black and Yellow” remixes, that one did go more or less unnoticed.
The point is, sustainability is moving into the public eye, not only with the occasional publicity stunt, but in globally broadcast media events, where its presence can actually effect change.
Going green on this scale results in more than just a cleaner conscience — the amount of energy expended in a single Super Bowl could power approximately 1,500 homes for a full year. It seems desirable that that amount of energy come from wind and not from coal.
Last year’s Academy Awards show was watched by 41.3 million people. The average Super Bowl these days reaches about 100 million. It’s hard to put a cap on the impact of name-dropping wind energy and recycling at events like those.
So the next move for sustainability on Oscar and Grammy night would be to increase how much we talk about it.
This is not to say that James Franco should interrupt an Anne Hathaway wardrobe-malfunction joke to explain the benefits of renewable energy. Viewers would be annoyed, Anne Hathaway would be annoyed and even clean energy companies would probably be annoyed, because the Academy Awards viewers include their target demographic too.
Sustainabilty is not what people turn on the TV to see, but there’s no reason they can’t see a little of it.
The average person watching the Oscars, Grammys, Super Bowl or Olympics might never know about the event’s carbon offsets if they’re not mentioned at least once or twice on air.
Topping a pastry at the Oscars with a locally grown strawberry will not decrease our CO2 emissions, but if enough people are talking, the chain reaction of sustainable practices from the publicity it precipitates actually might.
An eco-friendly red carpet at such an event is the environment’s equivalent of product placement. Though it’s hardly what everyone will tune in for, if it’s viewed, blogged about and especially mentioned in the live coverage, many more people will remember it when they reflect on the ceremony.
Those plastic water bottles are looking more glamorous every day.
Kastalia Medrano is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism and associate managing editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Green Piece,” runs Tuesdays.