This past weekend, journalists, politicians, celebrities, and the president and vice president gathered in Washington, D.C., for the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.

For the first time in its 96-year history, the event took a decidedly green turn by partnering with the National Resources Defense Council to offset and reduce the environmental footprint of the dinner.

"How do I justify focusing on small efforts like greening a dinner, however famous it might be, when giant catastrophes characterize our ecological era?" wrote the NRDC's Allen Hershkowitz. "My view is that no effort is too small to carry out given the problems we face. After all, minor progress is all that most of us can achieve. So, for this WHCA annual dinner, we did what every event planner should do."

Those changes including an unprecedented carbon offset of the presidential motorcade — as well as keynote comedian Jay Leno's private Leer jet. The paper products, supplies and services that were purchased were in no way were associated with deforestation, global warming, toxic chemicals or species extinction. In addition, the prepared meal was sustainable — featuring locally produced foods and wine. Uneaten meals were donated to a local community kitchen.

Of course, it's hard to get excited about "greening a dinner" when so much grim news regarding the oil spill in the Gulf continues to flow in, but as Hershkowitz said on his blog, minor progress leads to bigger shifts. "Everything needs to be done."

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Laughs flow at eco-friendly White House Correspondents' Dinner
Jokes and good food follow new initiative by NRDC for a more sustainable evening.