Actor Adrian Grenier and producer Peter Glatzer, creators of SHFT.com, a website that sells sustainably designed products and produces original environmentally conscious online content, have forged a partnership with the Ford Motor Company.
As part of the partnership, the automaker will sponsor a series of 10 documentary shorts for the two-year-old site. Glatzer says that the documentaries will profile innovators and game-changers in the sustainable movement.
A spokeswoman for Ford and the SHFT.com partners did not have more specifics on other ways they would work together, but advertising is not part of it. "We're definitely in an exploration phase," said Ford consumer media communications manager Marisa Bradley. "It's really about helping people discover their own ways that they can live more sustainably. It’s not about forcing people into one vehicle but giving them a choice."
She pointed to Ford's launches of five new fuel-efficient vehicles in 2012, including hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and all-electric cars and said that Shft.com and it's "young" and "influential" creators can help in educating consumers about vehicles options and in reaching new customers. "There's a ton of misconceptions about what the differences in fuel-efficient cars are. Through this partnership, we're hoping to dispel some of those and also help educate people on ways they can drive more fuel efficiently," said Bradley.
Said Glatzer, "I think the Ford Focus Electric is not only a great car that runs on electricity but the interiors are made of sustainable materials like soy and denim. We're really seeing the future. There are no partnerships that we've forged at Shft that don't share our core values of sustainability, innovation, corporate responsibility and creativity. It couldn't be a better fit."
Said Grenier, "It's great to see that these big companies aren't too big to be nimble and embrace consumer demands."
Grenier and Glatzer, who executive produced the 2008 green lifestyle and home makeover Planet Green show Alter Eco, have also recently inked content partnerships with AOL Huffington Post and Virgin America, which will show shorts prodcued by SHFT in flight. The website, in partnership with Lockerz.com, recently debuted a 10-part series of four- to six-minutes documentary shorts called Young Farmers profiling people in the organic farm-to-table movement, from a high school senior and budding green gardener to the founder of a company making cosmetics from his planets.
In addition to its content, SHFT.com is a marketplace for more than 300 sustainably produced items from $35 bamboo iPhone cases and $4.50 biodegradable pet bowls to $88 hanging terrariums and a $200 solar-powered boombox. One of the more expensive products is a guitar with a body made from hemp pulp for $3,475. Glatzer said that some of his favorite products are lamps made from reused corrugated cardboard from a company called Graypants. "And you would never know that unless you were told," he said. "Let's consume with a consciousness and it can be a sexy and well-designed as anything that isn't sustainable. It's about market-driven solutions and not just happy talk."
Grenier's SHFT recommendations? One of the many bikes on the site. "Being a New Yorker, that's very important to me. We had a Schwinn bamboo bicycle that was so lightweight we were hanging it practically by tinsel," said the actor, who said he owns a couple of city bikes including a Schwinn. "And then I have one banana bike. Not for me, it's for the ladies."
He's also excited about SHFT nonprofit initiatives from supporting organic schoolyard gardens in New York City to its work with nonprofit Empowered By Light. With the purchase of one $49.95 Pharox Solar Kit on SHFT.com, the website donates a second one to the charity's Solar: Zambia project. The kits bring electricity and the ability to charges cel phones to rural Zambians. Said Grenier: "It's a solar-powered light orb, essentially giving light and communication to villages who don't otherwise have the infrastructure. So they end up burning kerosene, which is the equivalent of two packs of cigarettes a day. These 14-year-old kids are dying of lung cancer."
So what is next for Grenier, the actor, now that Entourage has ended after eight seasons? "Oh, those old things," he said. "I have a couple of offers I'm fielding. I've been real focused with SHFT. I haven't really felt like I have missed a step in terms of work. I'm just waiting for the next right project." One possible project is an Entourage feature film.
Does he want to do another TV show?
"I don't know if TV is in the cards for me right now but you never know," he said. "I'm not only an actor so I've got lots to do."
Here are some of those other things Grenier is up to:
1. He and Glatzer are launching a sustainable wine, Stomping Grounds, in December available through SHFT.com
2. The two are developing a full-length documentary feature that will focus on innovators and game-changers "who are changing the landscape of the world we're living in right now, not just environmentally," said Glatzer.
"A couple of our original series for the web are very translatable to TV,” he added, including Young Farmers. "There's a dining series we want to make on chef-led, local, sustainable farm-to-table values."
3. Apart from his work with Shft and Glatzer, Grenier is re-teaming with his partner on the 2010 documentary Teenage Paparazzo to co-produce a documentary called How to Make Money Selling Drugs, currently in post-production. It will feature interviews with 50 Cent, Eminem, one-time drug trafficker "Freeway" Rick Ross and hemp advocate Woody Harrelson, among others, that will focus on the lives of people involved in the war on drugs.
4. According to IMDB, Grenier is also in development as a producer on Spin, a documentary about restrictions on First Amendment rights.
On Nov. 12, Grenier tweeted: “hoping to make a deal with @HBODocs 4my next one; soon”
Tonight, Nov. 14 at the New York Hilton, Grenier will receive the Entertainment Design Award at the 12th annual Sustainable Design Awards presented by nonprofit environmental group Global Green.