It's Easy Being Green

  • Michael O'Brien and Jennifer Miller DuBuisson
    Photo: Rebecca Sapp/

By Laurel Fishman

Inspiration was everywhere at The Recording Academy's 2nd Annual Greening Summit: The Sound Of Social Change, held at the Conga Room at L.A. Live on Friday.

I was feeling pretty inspired myself when I was immediately invited to be the guest to sit (in a cushy, velvety chair) in on the panelists' "pre-show" interviews.

Each panelist spoke about their area of focus, which revealed the forward-thinking range of sectors they come from, all of them here today because of one common goal … actually, make that common goals.

The goal of the event was to bring active participants in sustainability together to discuss their own goals and how ecological concerns factor into the efforts of the music industry and music makers.

The GRAMMY Awards themselves, working with the NRDC, are taking an active role in the ecological impact of the show and its related activities.

The diversity of the panelists' fields, coupled with their shared purpose, really showed the power of an idea whose time has come. The discussion brought forth a model of what can be accomplished in practical terms for global sustainability in an era of expanding technology and increasing accountability that is responsive to social networking's demand for transparency.

Today we have Hot Wheels packaging trays made of compostable sugarcane, according to Jennifer Miller DuBuisson, associate manager of global sustainability for Mattel. Bridgette Bell, global sustainability manager for Yum! Brands, spoke about her company building green restaurants. Yum! also is holding its first sustainability competition, with 80 universities participating. The company's food containers are actively being recycled by families for use in lunchboxes.

There is zero waste in both of Hyundai's U.S. plants, said Hyundai vice president of corporate and product placement Michael J. O'Brien. Hyundai is aggressively and successfully developing technology to substantially increase gas mileage while reducing greenhouse gas, a key to Hyundai's Blue Drive System, O'Brien said. "A vision is essential," he commented.

Embodying this morning's visionary spirit was Tim Sexton, co-founder of environmental business policy association E2. He connected the dots between social change and how it is impacted by musicians, citing Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. With his producer roles with Rock the Vote and Live Aid events, Sexton was eminently qualified to draw the relationship between pop culture and public policy. He spoke about the Law of the Iroquois, which holds that the current generation should never make a decision without considering its impact seven generations into the future. And amid the commitments by the panelists that their companies would continue moving ahead with increasing sustainability awareness and implementation — though perhaps slowly but surely — my favorite comment was Sexton quoting his own mother's wisdom: "Life by the inch is a cinch. Life by the yard is hard."

And onward into the future ....

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