Greening The GRAMMYs: It All Adds Up

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 instigate — or help 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.

In the same way, the single disposable plastic bag you might unwittingly take home from the grocery store might not seem like a meaningful contribution to our ecological crisis. But in fact, every minute tens of millions of other consumers are also taking home a disposable plastic bag, which adds up to more than 100 billion bags distributed in the United States annually. Hence, the production and use of plastic bags is now a major consumer of fossil fuels and the most ubiquitous form of litter on the planet, threatening everything from marine mammals to our food chain.

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

It is with this fact in mind that everyone has to do something to reduce their ecological footprint and that no one single entity or law can solve our diverse ecological crises. And we should appreciate the value of the GRAMMYs' environmental initiative that the Natural Resources Defense Council helped launch five years ago with Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow, and which we continue to oversee.

By itself, the GRAMMY telecast does not instigate major ecological impacts. But each and every procurement decision, and all operations, are reviewed with an eye toward reducing the event’s ecological footprint. The paper products and other supplies that are used 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:


The entire production of the live broadcast of the 54th GRAMMY Awards is being powered by 100 percent renewable energy purchased through the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, avoiding 16,238 kilowatt hours’ worth of fossil fuel emissions.


The GRAMMY Celebration after-party features reusable china and glassware. Most of the food serviceware used at the GRAMMY Pre-Telecast and for crew is bio-based and compostable.

The menu created by Along Came Mary Productions for the GRAMMY Celebration includes locally grown and produced meat, produce and cheese. All seafood is sustainably produced.

Leftover edible food from the Celebration will be donated to local food banks. All cooking oil used for the GRAMMY Celebration will be recycled.

Waste And Recycling

Waste Management is providing recycling bins throughout the Los Angeles Convention Center and Staples Center. Plastic, aluminum, bottles and paper are being collected for recycling in both locations. Catering services at Staples Center will recycle glass, paper and cooking oils.

Organic waste from the GRAMMY Celebration will be removed for composting. Corks used at the Celebration and MusiCares Person of the Year tribute will be recycled.


All incoming ticketing requests were processed electronically. Many GRAMMY Week invitations and RSVPs were electronic this year, eliminating the printing of a large number of invitations and envelopes.

Most paper products (such as envelopes, letterhead, posters) were printed on paper containing 50 to 100 percent post-consumer recycled content.


Most furniture/set pieces on stage are rentals, and therefore reusable.


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


NRDC is providing volunteers that will assist crew, Staples Center staff and media representatives with information about The Recording Academy's environmental initiative and will interact with guests and staff about environmental issues.

The GRAMMY telecast might not have a big ecological impact, but it certainly has a large cultural impact. The GRAMMY Awards is among the most widely watched TV shows in the world. And the music industry in general is a global multibillion 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.

For more information on this initiative and what you can do, please visit or

(The Recording Academy will present its 2nd Annual Greening Summit: The Sound Of Social Change on Feb. 10 at the Conga Room at L.A. Live in Los Angeles. Sponsored by Waste Management, the summit will feature a panel focusing on corporate responsibility in sustainability and how industry insiders can use their collective power to drive change in greening.)


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