This is a follow-up piece to my How to eco-hack you Walt Disney World Vacation post and focuses on how Walt Disney World (WDW) is attempting to be green.
Basically, when I (Emma) wrote that post, I was very much aware that the onus should not be on the individual visitor because the entity with the power to make real change is WDW itself. And they are doing a lot, don’t get me wrong, but they can always do better.
Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people. It’s a matter that concerns all of us.Walt Disney
What is WDW doing to make itself more eco-friendly?
Disney does do a lot to make itself a greener place and has over the years, especially at Animal Kingdom and EPCOT theme parks educated guests about issues like conservation, renewable energy use, and animal welfare. (Around one-third of WDW’s property is a conservation area.) They also take time to drum this into employees during training and have donated millions of dollars to animal and conservation charities over the years.
They’ve had recycling bins all across property since at least 2011 and their sanitation crew still hand sorts the rubbish bins to remove recyclables. Their hotels are Green Lodging-certified, which means that they are helping to conserve water and energy, reducing waste, and educating the public.
They’re also doing a lot to reduce energy use by utilising energy-saving fixtures, like florescent or LED bulbs. To be clear, Disney managed to save enough energy to power their Animal Kingdom theme park for a year. And they’ve created a Mickey-shaped solar panel field.
As mentioned above in our previous piece, they are committed to growing a lot of food on property, which they do using reclaimed water. However, Disney also helps to reduce food waste by distributing excess prepared food to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Their buses even run on a renewable fuel made from non-consumable food waste.
Recently, WDW has pledged to completely eliminate all single-use plastics by the end of 2019, which means that for the most part, we were served with cardboard/paper plates anddrinks came without lids or straws. (On the one occasion that we got a plastic bowl for our salad, I assume it was because that location hadn’t yet run out of the plastic bowls and they were just using up what they had.)
What could WDW do better?
In my ideal world, Disney would serve every counter-service meal with reusable cutlery and crockery, but I definitely understand why that wouldn’t work. People break things and metal knives would be unsafe and how would washing up on such a major scale be done? Also, I fully accept that it would be a logistical and health and safety nightmare to place meals and (most) snacks in reusable containers that people had brought in.
The best option would, I feel, be for WDW to use compostable food containers/cutlery and put a compost bin at all rubbish bin locations. Not only would this be a bonus for the environment, but Disney could use the soil produced for its on-site food production. Yes, it would take time for people to get used to, but so did the recycling bins and those were a great idea.
They could also encourage people to bring their own reusable cutlery/bottles by offering a discount. Disney could even sell branded ones at food locations as they do popcorn buckets and soda mugs. Also, Starbucks is happy to fill my mug in the UK, so why can’t the Starbucks in Disney do that?
Anyway, so that’s my thoughts on the subject, but now I want to hear from you. Are there any more green initiatives that you know Disney is taking? What do you think Disney could do better? Let me know in the comments below.