Across Magic Kingdom and the other parks, especially Animal Kingdom, there are messages about conservation or environmental stewardship or blah, blah, blah… Why am I unimpressed? Because it is mostly a fraud or a Potemkin village or a lie or Romnesia or whatever else you want to insert into the phrase to signify false.
Take plastic bags for example. The large plastic bags you get from a gift shop are proudly emblazoned with the statement that the bags are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.
Sure, it’s 100% post-consumer recycled plastic but you are handed one no matter how many bags you might have in hand or how little the purchase might be. Buy a little pin for your daughter’s lanyard? Get a bag. Don’t try and ask to forgo the bag because you will put your purchase in a bag acquired prior to the current purchase. You will get looked at as if you have an alien’s head growing out your shoulder. About the only thing worse to ask is why Donald Duck does not wear pants. Seriously, try and ask about the lack of pants.
Composting? Hah! In Animal Kingdom there is a little section called Rafiki’s Planet Watch where there are little signs urging you to build backyard habitat or to compost or whatever. I stopped paying attention because I did not see any effort on Disney’s part to compost. Separate bins for food waste or paper at the dining options? Nope. Just throw it all away. Never mind all the plastic cutlery and what not that was designed for one short use before being thrown away.
Recycling? For all the guests saw at the park it was limited to can and bottle bins next to some of the trash bins scattered throughout the park. Maybe the cast members, as employees are called in Disney’s Orwellian vocabulary, are more aggressive behind the scenes but I would not hold my breath.
The waste must be incredible. This is the part of the park that is not normally accessible by guests because it would “ruin the magic.” I think it is because the magic is made possible by a giant industrial beast not unlike the beating heart of some newly industrialized British city center in the 1800s. All that is missing is belching smokestacks and glowing furnaces. You get a little taste of that in the lines at the Tower of Terror.
In this behind the scenes look there are some interesting numbers. In the Magic Kingdom alone, the park with the big castle in the center, 23 tons of garbage per day is funneled through an air powered tube system where it is supposedly separated—look, recycling in Florida—and the remaining waste is burned.
69 tons of laundry producing 1 ton of lint? Mind blowing.
I think about toilets and urinals a lot. It’s a weird fascination, but what is someone supposed to think about for the thirty seconds or so they are standing in front of a urinal at a theme park? Really?
Most of the urinals I saw in Disney World were the traditional 1 gallon per flush models. One gallon per flush is a lot. Most residential dual flush models do the job with less and commercial urinals are doing the job with a lot less. How much less? Try none.
At Sea World most of the urinals I encountered were waterless types. Heck, even parts of the Magic Kingdom are doing better. In the bathrooms near Gaston’s Tavern in the new Fantasyland the amount of water per flush is 0.13 gallons. A big improvement over the more commonly seen 1 gallon per flush, but really only impacting a small part of the overall picture.
If this seems like a rant, it is. After six days in theme or amusement parks my mind really began to wonder about the possibilities for education and awareness building. Each of these parks has a captive audience receptive to the message being sent out. Don’t believe me? Watch the herds of people mindlessly listen to the instructions all day long and you will begin to wonder just how much free will humans possess in general.
Granted, Disney World does not seem to be the lone standout in Florida for lack of environmental consciousness.