How The Oscars Just Became More Sustainable

As we all wait patiently for the red carpet to roll out this weekend, the glitterati are already gathering at dozens of big events across Hollywood to celebrate the build up to the 90th Academy Awards. Champagne is flowing, hors d' oeuvres are sizzling, and great ballrooms are filling with lights, music, flowers, and fame. 

Unfortunately, there's a downside to all this opulence: Big events are not easy on the environment. Throwing a party of the caliber of those surrounding the Oscars is resource-intensive. Between transportation, lighting, sound, food, water, and more, the carbon footprint is high, and waste is nearly inevitable. Without proper planning, big events can send thousands of pounds of food, paper, plastic, and flowers to the landfill, all for a party that lasts a few hours. And that didn't sit well with Jennifer Grove. 

Grove was once the owner of a high-end boutique wedding and event design company that dealt with a huge amount of flower arrangements. Over time, however, Grove grew frustrated with what the fate of the flowers: after time, talent and resources were spent designing dazzling floral centerpieces, the flowers were tossed in the dumpster at the end of the day and sent to the landfill.

While this is a waste of perfectly good flowers, the presence of organic matter in landfills is also a huge contributor to green house gas emissions. When organic waste is dumped in a landfill, it undergoes anaerobic decomposition due to the lack of oxygen and generates methane, according to Environment Victoria. When released into the atmosphere, methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Since this can all be avoided by composting organic waste, Grove knew that had to be a better way to take care of flowers.

In 2014, this line of thinking led her to found Repeat Roses, a company that diverts floral arrangements from events away from the landfill by giving them a second life at non-profit organizations before taking them to be properly composted. And this weekend, Repeat Roses is helping save thousands of would-be wasted flowers from four Oscars-related events: Swarovski's pre-Oscar event, which happened on Thursday; the Motion Picture & Television Fund's annual "The Night Before" Oscars party on Saturday; and two Vanity Fair Oscars parties on Sunday night immediately following the awards show.

The flowers from the Swarovski and Vanity Fair events will be repurposed and donated to the East Los Angeles Women's Center and the UCLA Rape Treatment Center to "bring a spot of hope to victims of rape and domestic abuse, and sexually abused children," as Grove told Green Matters in an interview. Flowers from the Motion Picture & Television Fund party will be delivered to residents of the MPTF campus, which cares for entertainment industry retirees in assisted living facilities as well as gives special treatment for those living with Alzheimers and dementia. 

This is how it works: immediately after the glitzy event is over, Repeat Roses swoops in and picks up the flowers. The company has its own staging  area, where they then rearrange the party-sized arrangements into individual "bed-sized" bouquets. Within hours, the company then delivers the restyled flowers to the non-profits where Grove is greeted with "so many smiles and a sense of gratitude for bringing a little light and love into situations that are otherwise not so easy."

"We deliver flowers to people who haven't had visitors in awhile or are experiencing dark days," she said. "It's our pleasure to show people that someone cares about them. The surprise flower delivery creates an immediate emotional health boost."

After the flowers have brought cheer, Repeat Roses takes one more step to ensure the environmental impact remains high—the company returns to each facility to collect the flowers and delivers them to local composting facilities. For journeys longer than five miles, they even pay carbon off-sets. For the Oscars parties, Repeat Roses will keep as much as an entire ton of organic waste from entering the landfill, an eco-accomplishment that Grove hopes will only grow.

"Our mission is for every awards show and celebration to include a social impact-meets-sustainability element in the event plan," she said. "Repeat Roses is a great way to keep the party going into the larger community."

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