The week leading up to the Academy Awards was a whirlwind of parties and gift lounges for celebrities and the media covering them, with free stuff dispensed all over town. But in an effort to balance all the conspicuous consumption, some of the so-called "swag suites" had an eco-friendly theme or a few green elements, and all had a giving-back component, with donations and auctions for various charities. First up was Global Green’s party, where items on display included water-saving Caroma toilets (Ed Begley Jr. has ‘em), Pureology hair products and the forthcoming Chevy Volt electric car.
With reclaimed wood and recycled fabric furniture from RC Green and organic food from Creative Gourmet On Set catering, the Eco-Oscars Green Carpet Hospitality Lounge offered a host of environmentally friendly products, including organic soaps from Ton Savon, Ditto hangers made from post-consumer waste, and Pure Heat dryers and anti-static ceramic brushes made from 50 percent recycled material. Guests were invited to pose for a photo book to benefit the Red Cross’ Haiti relief efforts, and we caught up with actress Mayim Bialik after her session.
“We’re a green family,” said the spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network and former Blossom star, noting that she makes organic food for her sons (ages 4 and 18 months), has banned paper towels from her home, drives an economical used car, and makes her own baby wipe solution and cleaning products “except for toilet bowl cleaner. We’re very low on the consumer totem pole.” A longtime vegetarian recently turned vegan, she wears no leather or animal products, and dresses her boys in hand-me-downs and thrift store clothing. “This being L.A., they have all the top brands,” she reminds. “Your kid doesn’t have to look like a peasant.”
Bialik, who has recurring roles on Secret Life of the American Teenager and Til Death, will play Jerry Rubin’s girlfriend Nancy in Chicago 8, set amid the riots at the Democratic National Convention in 1968.
The Platinum Oscar Suite at the House of Blues featured vegan catering by One World, a signed T-shirt auction for Hollywood Helping Haiti, and products including T-shirts from Money Laundry, which uses recycled shredded U.S. currency in the stitching. Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights) took time out from working on an episode of CSI and preparing to move into her first home to check out the wares. “We bring our own bags to the grocery store and have Brita water filters so we don’t use plastic bottles anymore,” said the vegetarian “heading toward vegan.” She’ll head to Austin for Friday Night Lights’ fifth season in April, as the football drama’s fourth season premieres on NBC.
“We eat organic and recycle and use energy-efficient light bulbs, unplug appliances, little stuff like that. It really adds up,” said Jai Rodriguez (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), who’s in Lady Gaga’s new “Telephone” video. When it comes to green fashion, the stylish actor is “all for organic fabrics and fibers like bamboo that don’t pollute the environment and I want to support them, but the styles have to be current and the cuts flattering. The shapes have to be good or it looks cheap.”
At the Alive! Green Expo, benefiting Project Green, items ranged from Michelle Abogado’s recycled material jewelry to 360 Vodka, packaged in recycled glass with labels made from recycled waste paper. The GBK Oscar Suite offered green options including Reuse Jeans, rewoven from scrap textiles, Eminence organic skin care, nontoxic nail polish from Hopscotch Kids, and Sprout watches, which are 86 percent biodegradable and made from sustainable materials like organic cotton and bamboo. Melissa Rycroft (Dancing with the Stars) snapped one up along with skin care items and vouchers for a Thai vacation at the Six Senses Resort & Spa.
Rycroft admits she’s not as green as she could be. “I’m the first one to say I’m kind of naïve about all of it. Everyone knows to recycle, but it’s the stuff that you don’t hear about, the facial and skin care products, every day things in your life that you can change,” she said. “I’m interested in learning more about it.”
Celebs primarily from the music and TV world turned out to watch the Academy Awards while supporting a good cause — foster care and adoption — at the Children Uniting Nations Oscar viewing party. On the red carpet, Samm Levine was rooting for his movie Inglourious Basterds and friend Anna Kendrick and gushing about an upcoming bit part in an episode of his favorite show, Lost. Why this event rather than palling with the Basterds boys? “There are so many kids out there that want love and care and so many loving families that can’t have kids. Anything that brings them together, I can get behind,” he said.
He’s also on board with green living. “I got a Lexus hybrid,” he told us. “You can be eco-friendly in style, so why not? I recycle, of course, and my friend got me into composting. He has a garden and comes by like every four days for a bag of compost.” Alas, Levine has yet to receive the fruits (or vegetables) of his friend’s horticultural labors.
American Idol alumnus Elliott Yamin, one of the event’s performers, had just returned from Chile, where he was caught in the magnitude-8.8 earthquake in a Santiago hotel. “It took me five days to get out. I was worried about running out of insulin supplies,” said the diabetic singer. As for his green efforts, “I recycle my a*s off and I don’t turn on the water when I brush my teeth,” he said.
Another former Idol contestant, Kimberly Caldwell, has a different way of conserving. “I use single-ply toilet paper,” she confided. Caldwell, who debuted her single Mess of You on Ellen this week, is glad she waited till now to release her first album, “because now I know who I am as a person, a singer and songwriter.” Her album, Without Regret, due out April 6, “is all about being human and empowerment. I have five little sisters, so I wanted to make sure that it had a good message.”
Also on hand were Grey’s Anatomy’s James Pickens Jr., who retrofitted the plumbing and heating in his house to make it more efficient and Daphne Zuniga (One Tree Hill), who’s on a mayoral committee to revitalize the Los Angeles River.