Fast Company

The Sound of Social Change: Green Business at the GRAMMY Awards

 

Beyond the initial excitement of attending official GRAMMY Week events, presented by The Recording Academy in Los Angeles this month, was the increasing promise of corporate involvement in sustainable business practices.   This continued commitment on the part of business to build smarter, cleaner, more efficient business models was   evidenced by thought leaders at the GRAMMY Green Summit on Friday, February 10 at L.A. Live.   Many of you may remember reading last year’s article on the greening of the music industry Green Leadership at the GRAMMYs.

This year’s Green Summit, titled “The Sound of Social Change” moved beyond the industry and expanded to conversation to several of The Recording Academy’s corporate partners and leaders in community engagement and communication.  Again, Waste Management, an official sponsor of The GRAMMY Awards, stepped in to present this informative summit on the many ways businesses are going green.  The panel participants were Bridgette Bell,  Global Sustainability Manager for Yum! Brands,  William Brent, EVP of Weber Shandwick’s Cleantech, Michael J. O’Brien, VP of Corporate and Product Planning at Hyundai, Jennifer DuBuisson, Assoc. Manager of Global Sustainability at Mattel, Tim Sexton, founding partner at Sexton Group and Greg Baldwin of the Environmental Media Association.    Each company was able to dialogue about the ways in which their business and partners are incorporating a more long term business view when development products or services that meet the needs of an evolving consumer - be that a reduction of packaging waste with toys or a more fuel efficient automobile with Hyundai.   For a review of that discussion on GRAMMY.org:  It’s East Being Green.  

 Wanda Williams, Director of Alliances and Industry Relations at Waste Management introduced the panel and clearly articulated her company’s continued commitment to the greening of partnerships and their partner organizations.   The company continues to be in a strong leadership position as the largest recycler in North America.  For Waste Management, the ability to expand their vision of sustainability depends greatly on their corporate partners and alliances.  It’s not unlike Walmart’s commitment to ensuring their sustained growth of it’s partners in reducing environmental impact, knowing that teir impact is reduced as their supply chain responds.   For Waste Management, these alliances mean increasing their mission beyond waste collection and growing the business of single stream organics, waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy with their facilities across the USA, China and Europe.   As they state, “being on the back end of waste collection means that Waste Management is the deciding factor in where every piece of it’s customers waste stream goes, what life it will have and what role it will play in an increasingly technology reliant supply chain.”  

 Each of these company representatives on the GRAMMY Green Summit panel commented on the strong power of partnership in order to advance developments in sustainability.  The nature of the work of both Shandwick Weber and The Sexton Group is to elevate the communications around sustainable initiatives for their clients or business sectors as a whole.   Which brings us to why each of these companies see the value in bringing their story to an official GRAMMY sponsored event.   I suspect most of us are well aware that we live in a culture where entertainment news leads.  When we can couple our stories of change with an artist or music related event, then social and environmental change is a sweeter pill to swallow.   Tim Sexton spoke of the long term relationship between celebrities and social cause - and their ability ti rapidly elevate perceptions and recognition of need in the world.  Sexton’s participation as producer of events such as LIVE 8 and Rock the Vote, have given him a front row seat - literally - to directing and witnessing the strong impact of the entertainment industry on social change.   

 Another leader in environmental change was present at the panel that morning,  Allen Hershkowitz,  Senior Scientist with the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC).   Hershkowitz and I spoke prior to the Green Summit panel discussion.  From him I learned about the various ways NRDC collaborated with The Recording Academy to green the show and week of events.   The NRDC provided a team of volunteers attending all events to ensure Environmental compliance including:

  • ENERGY: The entire production of live broadcast at the 54th GRAMMY Awards was powered by 100% renewable energy
  • FOOD:  The GRAMMY celebration featured reusable china and glassware.  The menu included locally grown and produced meet, produce and dairy.  All seafood was sustainably sources.  Leftovers donated to local food banks.  
  • RECYCLING:  Waste Management provided recycling bins throughout the LA Convention Center for the pre-telecast and official after-party.  All plastic, aluminum, bottles and paper were collected for recycling at both the Convention Center and Staples Center.  Organic Waste was composted.
  • PAPER:  All incoming ticketing requested handled  electronically.  Many of the GRAMMY week invitations and RSVP were handled electronically to reduce paper waste.  Any paper used was between 50 and 100% recycled content
  • DECOR:  Most furniture and set pieces on staged were either rented or reusable.
  • TRANSPORTATION: The Recording Academy partnered with RideAmigos to provide sponsored rideshares for award attendees.  

 

My question to other corporate sustainability leaders and clean tech entrepreneurs who may be reading this article is how are you finding your widest audience, and elevating the work of your partnerships and alliances?  Finding new outlets to communicate your social and environmental change and successes helps all of us continue the commitment to evolving our own businesses, amplifying our stories to increase awareness.  While change will occur in the hands on consumer behavior, the greatest level of redirecting the ship occurs at the level of large scale business.   And large scale business tooting it’s own horn, potentially at The GRAMMYs.

 

You can learn move about the GRAMMY’s commitment to green and their sustainable offices on their website.  

 

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