Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Greener Disney World? C'est possible!

Dear Walt Disney World Officials:

While strolling through Animal Kingdom with her family last week, Enviro-Girl listened to many cast members give lectures on the importance of nature conservation. They exhorted her to recycle, reuse, reduce--all Good and Important lessons. She admired Disney World's extensive efforts to help save the animals and their habitats.

Enviro-Girl noticed the low-flow faucets, the water-saving toilets and remarked on how tidy everyplace looked with the convenient trash barrels at every stop. The theme parks' 3-D movies had her return the 3-D glasses to reuse again at the next show. Mass transit was encouraged and convenient to use. Buffet-style dining was prominently featured everywhere--a less wasteful way to feed the masses and yes, cloth napkins further reduced her family's footprint during their stay at Walt Disney World.

And yet.

When Enviro-Girl arrived she ordered a "counter service" meal for her family. She watched the cast member prepare her sons' sandwiches and wrap them in paper. Then to her shock he put the wrapped sandwiches in individual Mouse-Ear-shaped plastic plates. He pulled out individually packaged carrots and individually packaged grapes and added them into each mouse ear. Then, to Enviro-Girl's horror, he covered the Mouse-Ear-shaped plate with a Mouse-Ear-shaped plastic top. He put the entire triple-packaged meal into a plastic bag. He then directed Enviro-Girl to select a bottled beverage from the cooler. She unwrapped each family member's meal from 4 layers before they could eat it--and then? The same process was repeated for every counter service meal her family enjoyed throughout their stay.

In Enviro-Girl's room there was no option to reuse towels and bedding. Housekeeping came every day and cleared them out--replacing both "dirty" and clean towels on a daily basis. That's a whole lot of laundry and labor. Enviro-Girl is used to and even expects only the towels on the floor to be replaced and washed when she stays in a hotel. Not the entire suite's worth.

Enviro-Girl mentioned that throughout the park trash barrels kept the grounds clean. But Enviro-Girl never saw any receptacle to recycle the dozens of plastic bottles her family drank out of. And there were many, many bottles because Walt Disney World has an exclusive contract with Coca-Cola--both fountain and cooler options only included their brands of soda and bottled tap water. Unless they were enjoying table service or drinking out of glasses in their suite, Enviro-Girl's family ended up with disposable plastic cups or bottles and had no alternative than to put them in the trash.

Enviro-Girl realizes that Walt Disney World is a mecca of conspicuous consumption. Still, Walt Disney World could practice what it preaches in Animal Kingdom--she suggests these cost-effective and simple things to make the entire dominion of Walt Disney World greener and cleaner:

* supply full housekeeping upon request only--and ask guests to reuse their towels and only leave them on the floor if they want them washed and replaced
* provide recycling containers so guests CAN recycle the bottled beverages you & your friends at Coca-Cola corporation peddle throughout the parks and resorts
* reduce packaging by eliminating at least 2 (preferably 3) of the plastic layers on the counter service meals.

These steps would save you electricity, water, labor and packaging costs in addition to conserving resources and helping the environment. These savings, while unlikely to be passed along to your customers, could further pad your pockets in these hard times.



  1. You can also bring a water bottle and refill it at the water fountains, which are located near all bathrooms. We've done that for two trips now with no problems.

    I agree that recycling could be done better at WDW. The worst for me was the food choices -- far too much junk food.

  2. The over-packaging thing is what drives me crazy the most! So much unnecessary trash!

  3. No recycling bins? That one's hard to believe.
    Love the letter - that last part's a nice touch ;)

  4. Very interesting. I just received an email from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice telling me about Disney and other "green" issues. I plan on blogging about it for tomorrow.

  5. Yes, remember the MONEY SAVING benefits of going green, Messrs. Disney!

    "Would you like a bag, Ma'am?" is such music to my ears, because most of the time, the answer is "No thanks".

  6. When I'm the boss of the entire world, I'm doing away with extra packaging. Especially the kind that cuts you when you try to open it.


  7. Plastic packaging - ahhhhhhhhhh! Why do they do it?

  8. I'm glad to hear Disney is working on their green program. Sounds like progress!!

  9. I seriously hope you sent them this letter.

  10. no kidding on the not passing the savings to their customers. that place is crazy expensive. we still go, but it's crazy.

  11. I hope you really sent that! And I hope they will take heed...

  12. Very true. I am from Central Florida, and while still not perfect in practicing what they preach, have really noticed a difference in their environmental education. Back when Epcot first opened, they were talking about recycling then.

  13. Actually, Disney DOES recycle!! And I know since I'm such a complete Disney dork that I read way too much about it! I've read in a couple places and heard from a couple Cast Members that they basically don't trust people to recycle on their own (apparently that didnt' work out too well for them in the past) and they collect the trash and sort it by garbage, paper, plastic, etc. Cool, huh?

  14. I reuse my plastic water bottles. Mostly, though, I drink my water from my own Nalgene bottle.

  15. You tell 'em, Mama! It'll be both frugal and green.

  16. This reminds me of my ”Vampire Mickey”

    Kind of sucks the life right out of the planet and combines Disney with Horror . . .


  17. Read my BLOG about the MAN CAVE!! We live in the SOUTH and people are just NOW recycling.. when I lived in NJ 30 years ago people HAD to recycle in certain areas.. I see more and more people using canvas bags to grocery shop, they hold so MUCH more.. Good Post!

  18. I wonder if that separate-bag-for-everything due to their health inspector? (Keeping the hands of the workers off the food). Surely it would be cheaper and easier to just have the workers WEAR PLASTIC GLOVES!

  19. You rock. As usual. Glad you are back and had a great time.

    And just an FYI to Just Ask Beth's comment: we are just now recycling in the South because we still have lots o' cheap land suitable for landfills (where a lot of the rest of the country's trash is shipped btw). Not that that makes it ok not to recycle, BUT the main reason other areas of the country have more prevalent recycling systems - or mandated ones - is only because their options for trash disposal have become too expensive. Sadly, it's aaaaall about the money.

    Sorry for the tangent, but I live in the South and used to work in the recycling world and had to clarify this issue often. Some habits die hard...

  20. Been there many times and Animal Kingdom has had recycle bins since they opened 10 years ago! Don't know how anyone could mis them. Always one in my hotel room too.
    The maids are told to leave the towels but many don't cuz they want a nice fat tip. (I leave $0 if they change the towels!) They don't change sheets unless you ask.
    I always look at the cleaning stuff when I see it on the carts or in public restrooms. I have also asked. What I've heard time and time again is they use the same cleaning stuff everywhere because they have a hugh contract with a big chemical company and have to use just their stuff. So I guess those Center for Health and Justic folks just didn't do their homework very well, again. Starting to think their efforts are hurting (due to poor research) more than helping.

  21. The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ) is hosting a national day of action Friday February 13, 2009 to raise awareness of the importance of green cleaning in schools. Visit the site http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/852/t/2096/signUp.jsp?key=3960 and download the free tool kit to get helpful tips on planning successful events. You can also learn fun facts on why green cleaning is so important and various ways to make your own green cleaning products. This movement is associated with the Disney Go Green campaign to encourage Disney World to eliminate toxic cleaning products from their parks, hotels, and restaurants.


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