- Associated Press - Thursday, January 27, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Lots of Hollywood productions celebrate their eco-friendliness, but the Screen Actors Guild Awards has made one of the greenest moves yet: It has all but eliminated the paper ballot.

The union’s annual show, which recognizes the best performances in TV and film, urged its 125,000 members to vote online for this year’s winners and only sent paper ballots to those who specifically requested them.

The move saved three tons of paper, says SAG Awards producer Kathy Connell.

But it wasn’t without risk. Though members were notified of the digital shift in the November issue of the union’s magazine, some still expected the traditional paper ballot to arrive in the mail. Pundits have speculated that online voting may alienate some of SAG’s older or less tech-savvy members.

Connell contends that members handle all kinds of union business online, and SAG Awards staffers are on hand to answer any awards-related questions.

The guild has offered online voting for the past five years, but previously backed up that offer with a paper ballot.

“We’ve been sending the printed ballot and each year, more and more people chose to vote online,” Connell says. “We thought there might be a possibility of a few people who weren’t as comfortable (without) a printed ballot. When we get to the end, we’ll see what the results are.”

She declined to reveal how many paper ballots were requested or how many votes are typically cast. SAG Awards voting closes Friday. The awards will be presented Sunday at the Shrine Exhibition Center.

While Connell says the move to paperless voting is the show’s most dramatic green effort yet, the SAG Awards are always aiming to become more environmentally friendly. The Environmental Media Association, a nonprofit group that promotes sustainability in Hollywood, has recognized the show’s ecological efforts two years in a row.

SAG is a zero-waste event, which is incredible,” says EMA President Debbie Levin. “Eliminating those paper ballots is huge.”

Connell says the show is close to a zero-waste event because of its ongoing eco-friendly practices. Besides digital voting, the show also handles its awards applications and credentials online. It embraces recycling: For bottles and cans and for stage sets and carpets. It serves locally grown food to guests and press, and provides hybrid cars for talent arrivals. This year, the show is using a biodiesel backup generator and will serve meals using eco-friendly plates, cups and utensils.

“We make small steps every year,” Connell says.

Levin says her organization has been working with other awards shows to make those productions more green, so expect more paperless voting in the future.

“It’s really tremendously innovative that SAG decided to make that statement, and they are going to be trendsetters,” she says. “I think everyone will move to paperless ballots because they’re easy and quick.”

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Online:

http://www.sagawards.org

http://www.ema-online.org

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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