For all the talk about the event industry going green, there comes along only the rare party that takes all efforts to the extreme to put forth a pure environmental message. Warner Music Group's Grammy after-party last night at Vibiana, overseen by WMG corporate communications vice president Susan Mazo, was that party.
The goal was to create a stylish event that was carbon-neutral and resulted in zero landfill waste—meaning no solid or hazardous waste and no emissions. New York-based Mazo got local agencies involved to make sure that happened. “We approached the city of L.A. to figure out how they could help us work with them,” Mazo said. California’s Integrated Waste Management Board, the City of Los Angeles’s Bureau of Sanitation, Athens Services, and other local companies and sponsors partnered with WMG on the project.
Green efforts included carbon-offsetting the event's energy usage; using energy-efficient lighting, biodiesel generators, and recycled paper products; composting paper and food waste; and sending invitations printed on recycled paper and manufactured with wind power. (A stamp on the outside of the corrugated-cardboard invitation, created by an artist at Atlantic Records, warned “Invitation Enclosed,” lest potential guests mistake it for trash.)
The menu, sourced from four local Whole Foods markets, used only local California products. Whole Foods also provided paper goods for the bathrooms. “This party has much more of an L.A. focus. Instead of going to Whole Foods corporate, we went to the local Whole Foods to work directly with people who are affected, rather than trucking in from Texas or somewhere,” Mazo said. “Plus, it's nice to work with some people in your own backyard.”
While a slate of live performers and DJs provided music, noise from the crowd often permeated the space, which is dominated by hard surfaces. But the crowd turned its attention to the stage as kid DJs Sara and Ryusei from Japan scratched in a crowd-pleasing set. (Kindergarten-age Ryusei is so tiny that he had to stand on a box to reach the low turntables.)
As for the decor, it supported the green theme, with potted trees dotting the space and limited use of cut flowers, which were composted afterward. Mazo described the look as reminiscent of “an ethereal forest—very earthy.” She added, ”Nothing is single-use. Some trees are live and some are props—but nothing has been cut down.”
“We're composting everything we can,” Mazo added. “Things you don't even think about—like the corks from the wine bottles—can be composted. It's all easy things, but you don't [always] think about them.”
Before it bowed last night, the party had even gotten the attention of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “[Californians] have learned that we can help our environment while at the same time protecting the economy and our lifestyles,“ the governor said in a press release. “Warner Music Group ... is turning consumption into conservation on the important pop culture stage.”
The event is part of a larger environment-friendly strategy for WMG, which recently changed its CD and DVD packaging to include postconsumer paper and is reviewing its greenhouse-gas emissions.