Back in 2007, the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice was not very happy with the happiest place on Earth – Disney World, of course. A center spokeswoman claimed that the cleaning products utilized at its parks were not up to par with the environmental regulations. As a result, the group started a campaign to persuade the Walt Disney Co. to be “an environmentally responsible tourism-industry leader” by using “certified ‘green’ cleaning products and procedures.” Four years later, the Walt Disney Co. is now ranked as the 23rd “greenest” public company in the United States according to Newsweek. What changed?
Walt Disney himself stressed the importance of conserving natural resources and the environment, which still resonates today as a program known as Environmentality. Environmentality is defined as a “way of thinking, acting, and doing business in an environemntally conscientions way – from saving energy and water to reducing wate and other environmental impacts” (Allen 1).
In 2007, although the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice wasn’t pleased with the Walt Disney Co.’s usage of environmentally unsafe cleaning chemicals, the Walt Disney Co. was a lot more conscientious with energy conservation. According to a source titled “How Disney Saves Energy (Hint: It’s Not Magic),” energy management is the key to success at Disney. The article goes on to describe the energy management systems (EMS) used at Walt Disney World Resort, in particular. Energy management begins with the manufacturing guidelines Disney has outlined for its machinery. Disney wants easy-to-use, easily expandable, competitive and low-cost, and owner maintainable machinery so that it can keep utility costs down in the long run. Additionally, Disney has implemented a “report card” type system that provides constant feedback on utility performance, which can be filtered by Disney area. Disney hopes that this promotes a little bit of competition between the areas to manage energy usage. In conjunction with this idea, Disney also has an Energy Star Awards Program that recognizes and rewards successful conservation efforts based on a ranking system of the different areas. Furthermore, Disney really stresses the Environmentality notion that Walt Disney first expressed. As a reminder of this program, Disney created a guide called the Energy Star Tool Bag to help employees identify energy waste. A majority of the guidelines involve simple tasks, such as turning off machinery when not in use, regulating temperature, and so on. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t really go into detail about the results and consequences of their programs. However, the programs must have been effective enough to have an article written about them.
On March 9, 2009, the Walt Disney Company announced its first comprehensive environmental plan, which stems from its new corporate responsibility report. The company plans to “reduce emissions, waste, electricity and fuel use, and its impact on water and ecosystems” all within 3 to 5 years. The long-term goals outlined in the corporate responsibility report include:
- Zero waste
- Zero net direct greenhouse gas emissions from fuels
- Reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions from electricity consumption
- Net positive impact on ecosystems
- Minimize water use
- Minimize product footprint
- Inform, empower and activate positive action for the environment
Some efforts that have already been taken include “a Wall-E-inspired rideshare program that experienced an 18 percent increase among employees over a year, reclaiming water for landscaping, an 80 percent reuse of wood from sets, launching Disneynature, a documentary movie label, and a partnership with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund” (Cruger). However, Disney recognizes that its chief problem is the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions that stem from Disney’s theme parks, resorts and cruise ships. 91% of the company’s total greenhouse-gas emissions and 73% of Disney’s total electrical use are due to boilers, generators, refrigeration systems, cruise-ship engines and more. Consequently, if they are able to reduce any of those emissions, maybe the happiest place on Earth can share some of its happiness with the rest of the world.
P.S. To find my one chief source, I used Google Scholar, then its ‘cited by’ sources.