Rolling out the green carpet for Scots carbon neutral ball

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IF YOU were to have passed by the Glasgow Hilton last night you would be forgiven for thinking that the master of ceremonies might be colour-blind or that the press pack outside were waiting for a million watt smile from Kermit the Frog or the Jolly Green Giant.

For instead of the usual red version, a green carpet was unfurled from lobby to streetside, the first sign that something fresh was happening in Scotland's social circuit.

No stretch limos pulled up to decant the hosts, but a pedicar with Scottish singer David Sneddon on peddles, ferrying glamour in the form of Miss Earth Scotland, Courtney St John.

The Miss Earth competition tagline is "beauty for a cause" and Glasgow's first-ever carbon neutral ball – the Capgemini Black and White Ball – hoped to become a cause clbre for all the right reasons.

The event, which pledged to redefine luxury through the principles of "eco-chic", achieves carbon neutrality through offsetting all of its carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits in environmentally friendly schemes around the globe.

Upon arrival at the Hilton last night, the 400 guests were aware that this was no ordinary event as they were greeted by a mobile phone recycling unit, reminding them that, despite the deals on offer, that new iPhone could continue to cost the earth if you throw your old handset away instead of recycling.

As it was a ticketless event, there was less paper to throw away, and even the paper on which the menu was written was specially seeded, with guests advised to take it home and plant it the following day.

The night began with an eco-cocktail reception with Glasgow's Lord Provost followed by a "welcome to Glasgow" by councillor Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council.

The inspirational highlight was provided by The Young Designer's Eco Goodie Bag Awards, judged by Carol Smillie and won by David Elder from Webster's High in Angus.

Careful consideration and time was given to ensuring that everything from the food and wine to the transport home were not harmful to the environment, whilst also ensuring that all ingredients on the menu were locally sourced.

The menu, which included Shetland salmon and roast rack of Dornoch lamb was devised by the hotel's head chef in consultation with the Soil Association to ensure that every ingredient was seasonal.

Amy Sieweke, UK director of Capgemini's Platinum Patronage to the Prince's Trust explained: "The aim of the Black and White Ball was to raise much-needed funds for the Prince's Trust in a sustainable and glamorous way. The need for environmental change is 'black and white' hence the title of our unique event.

"I have been delighted with the immense support we have received in this thoroughly difficult economic climate," Ms Sieweke said.

"Every aspect of the Ball had been considered with an environmental conscience, from the eco-auction items to the local menu, from the vintage couture to the bio-bus transport home.

"I hope that our approach to running the event will highlight the sustainable alternatives available and inspire change."

Yet it wasn't all Birkenstocks and dandelion wine, eco-chic came in the form of such items in the silent auction as an ethically-sourced diamond, an environmental challenge for ten people and an opportunity to buy your very own micro windturbine.

The cycling suit donated by Chris Hoy wasn't second-hand, but it was signed, as was the collection of all seven Harry Potter novels, which were printed on 100 per cent recycled paper.

Geraldine Gammell, Director of the Prince's Trust Scotland, said: "I am sure that an enjoyable evening was had by all at this year's Capgemini Black and White Ball.

"The event plays a vital role in raising the profile of environmental causes and raising funds for the Prince's Trust to help change the lives of some of Scotland's hardest to reach young people."

While the invitation noted "carriages" were to arrive at 1am, and would lead to an after-party, they did not involve a horse and cart, but a communal Stagecoach bus propelled by a tank of environmentally friendly biofuel. "Obviously I wanted people to have a great time – balls should be fun after all – and the first objective was to raise awareness of the Prince's Trust," said Ms Sieweke.

"But I also hoped that people left with an awareness of all the small and stylish ways that we can be more environmentally friendly and that you can be glamorous and sustainable."

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