cannes film festival
cannes film festival
The Red Carpet Goes Green At The Cannes Film Festival. Photo via Franck Michel/flickr; Edited by Epicure & Culture.

By Fanny from The GreenPick Blog 

If you’re currently in France for the Cannes Film Festival or have read the press coverage about it you’ve maybe heard about Julia Roberts climbing the 24 steps of the red carpet barefoot in the name of feminism, or Livia Firth‘s eco-conscious and recycled ensembles; but, did you know that behind the glitter of Cannes is hiding a monster of waste?

It took until 2012, after the release of the video broadcast by the Collectif Méditerranée en danger to highlight the bad ecological practices of Cannes Film Festival. This was followed by the documentary Super Trash from Martin Esposito and the petition from Greenpride launching its campaign “So that the Cinema symbol doesn’t become the symbol of waste.” Finally, things started to move.

The Red Carpet Goes Green

During the festival there’s more than 1,200 tons of additional waste, not to mention the 2,153 square foot red carpet changed three times a day during 11 days! That’s roughly the equivalent to the size of one of the Solomon islands that has recently been engulfed by the rising waters of the Pacific Ocean. This also represents a little more than a football stadium. Cannes Film Festival also brings celebrities donning designer dresses that, while beautiful to the eye, may feature unethical outsourced production methods.

If we had to rate Cannes Festival for its environmental practices for the last years it would have certainly received the Golden Palm of the least ecological event of the French Riviera.

Recently, however, things have begun to evolve, especially as negative press over the last few years raised awareness on the lack of conscious that really exists at this symbolic cinematic event.

When the media pressure plays its role

For this year’s 2016 festival, Cannes has set up compacting bins powered by solar energy to limit the number of garbage trucks and misplaced trash that often ends up in the sea. Since 2012, the Cannes Film Festival uses a 100% recyclable rug and, although it is changed three times a day, it no longer ends its life in the landfill, but instead at the manufacturer for recycling. Similarly, the Palme d’Or is now made of sustainable gold.

So, last year, perhaps to show the world an image of a Cannes Film Festival prone to change, the film by Luc Jacquet, La Glace et le ciel, ecological manifesto closed the festival.

We want to be exemplary, because we are also the promoters of tourism in Cannes and we want to train our local partners, hoteliers, restaurateurs, in this approach. This is very important for our image, says the CFO of Cannes Film Festival Palace.

While we can’t be sure how altruistic this statement really is, there’s no denying this change is positive for the planet and therefore for all of us.

cannes film festival
Photo via Sabine Mondestin/flickr

Is Green The New Black?

Many celebrities have also been tied to this change, many even wearing designer dresses made of recycled materials, like those worn by Emma Watson or Lupita Nyong‘o. Others use sustainably-sourced jewelry like gold and emeralds from Chopard worn by Julianne Moore. Even the official rosé of the Cannes festival is a certified organic wine called Paparazzi.

There is still some work to be done though, between the havoc of the fashion industry and the very archaic management of waste, we are still far from unwinding the green carpet. Fortunately, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal campaigning ceaselessly for the preservation of the planet. Many stars and fashion designers are also starting to launch eco-friendly lines, like the above-mentioned Livia Firth who is working with Eco-Age, a consulting agency providing eco-friendly certifications for fashion brands under certain conditions. The label is GCC, “Green Carpet Challenge,” a title revealing how the industry is evolving towards greater sustainability.

Even Air France decided to make some efforts, organizing “green” flights during the Cannes Film Festival that use 10% biofuel to reduce the carbon impact of this increased traffic. You can also do a search on the green-focused Glooby, a booking engine that includes a detailed Co2 rating which each flight search.

cannes film festival
Let’s work to keep Cannes — and the rest of the world — beautiful. Photo of Cannes via Free for Commercial Use/flickr.

How To Help

So to all those currently in Cannes for the festival or thinking of visiting in the future, realize that you also play a part in the environmental impact of this annual event. Start simple by bringing an eco-friendly refillable water bottle, avoiding Made in China souvenirs (local/domestic is always best no matter where you visit), and booking eco-friendly hotels and local homestays that put money into the pockets of locals. You might also opt for some local experiences beyond the festival, like having a meal in a local home or escaping to nearby vineyards for wine tasting and a picnic in the vines.

When it comes to dress, buy from designers who are clearly committed to ethics. A few to check out that combine style and sustainability include Monique Pean for one-of-a-kind environmentally-friendly jewelry pieces and Edun, a brand by Ali Hewson and Bono working to support African artisans. Also check out these designers incorporating recycled materials into their designs.

Do you have an eco-focused Cannes Film Festival tip or conscious high-end fashion brand recommendation to add? Please let us know in the comments below! 

About Fanny

Fanny is the co-creator –along with her partner Denis — of The GreenPick, a blog promoting sustainable ways of traveling and offering green travel tips. The above article was amended from its original version on The GreenPick blog, which you can view here.


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