Films and TV shows from across The Walt Disney Company earned recognition at the 2020 Environmental Media Association (EMA) Awards, which crowned the year’s most environmentally relevant television and movie titles. The annual awards honor films and shows that increase public awareness of climate change, sustainability and other environmental topics in their storylines.
Lance Bass hosted the 2020 EMA Awards, which went virtual this year, and was live-streamed on the EMA’s YouTube and Facebook pages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peter Saji and Tracee Ellis Ross, co-creators of mixed-ish, accepted the Paul Junger Witt Comedy Award for the episode “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” In the episode, which takes place in 1986, Rainbow is alarmed to learn that scientists predict the ozone layer will be depleted in 20 years and decides to take matters into her own hands to fight for the cause.
In accepting the award, Ross reflected on the award-winning episode and expressed her optimism for a greener world. “Much like we are facing an environmental crisis today, this was an episode that focused on an environmental crisis from 20 years ago,” she said. “But just like we fixed it once, if we work together, nothing is going to stop us from doing it again.”
National Geographic’s Activate won the EMA Award in the Documentary Series category for “Ending Plastic Pollution,” an episode about the push to get governments, companies and individuals to solve the ocean plastic pollution crisis. Darren Criss accepted the award on behalf of the show’s producers and urged viewers to ask their mayors to commit their cities to zero-waste futures. In Activate, Criss traveled to the Philippines to meet with members of The Ocean Project where he witnessed how plastic waste disproportionately impacts people in developing countries and chronicled the ways people and brands can contribute to solving the problem around the world.
Several other Disney titles were named finalists for EMA Awards, including Frozen 2, Disneynature’s Elephant, The Politician, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Puppy Dog Pals. In fact, The Walt Disney Company produced all three finalists in the Television Comedy category.
In addition to awarding films and television shows with environmental storylines, EMA also recognizes productions for their environmental efforts behind the scenes with the EMA Green Seal, a program honoring excellence in sustainable production. The Green Seal is based on a comprehensive scorecard which weighs sustainable production practices by the impact of the action as well as the level of difficulty in implementation. The harder the practice is, or the bigger its impact, the higher the score. Productions can also win a Gold Seal, a higher tier recognition for productions that have gone above and beyond in their implementation of green practices. Productions that win a Green or Gold Seal have reduced their environmental impact by minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, diverting waste from landfills, and preserving and protecting ecosystems.
In 2020, The Walt Disney Company won 11 Gold Seals and 39 Green Seals for both film and television productions (a full list of the winners is below).
As an example of Disney’s ongoing efforts to minimize the environmental impacts of creating our films and TV shows, Disney productions have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by:
- Maximizing LED set lighting, which keeps sets cool and reduces electricity by up to 70%.
- Using solar-powered cast trailers, some of which can run completely off the sun for an entire production.
- Reducing diesel generator use by tying into the electric grid, and using clean and silent battery electric power sources to reduce fuel use.
- Using cleaner alternative fuels such as renewable diesel, which can be used in any diesel engine and reduces lifecycle emissions by 60-80% compared to standard diesel fuel.
- Driving hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles.
Reduced waste by:
- Reusing materials when building sets and then, at wrap, passing those materials on to other productions or donating them to schools and nonprofit organizations.
- Donating edible food to local shelters and composting what can’t be donated instead of sending it to the landfill.
- Minimizing single-use items like water bottles and coffee cups, replacing them with refillable containers.
- Setting up recycling in production offices and in all work areas, including on set.
Protected biodiversity by:
- Using only Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified plywood to build set walls to ensure that our rainforests are protected.
- Reducing paper use by going digital and, when printing is necessary, being sure to use copy paper with the most recycled content possible.
We continue to work to ensure all of our productions are being created in an environmentally responsible manner and to help the entire entertainment industry make progress in addressing our collective impacts.
2020 Gold Seal Winners:
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
West Side Story
2020 Green Seal Winners:
9-1-1: Lone Star
Bless This Mess
Books of Blood
Death on the Nile
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Fresh Off the Boat
The Old Man
Tales from the Loop
This Is Us
What We Do in the Shadows