Recycling bin at Epcot at Walt Disney World.

We visited Walt Disney World for our family vacation during Thanksgiving, but, of course, my “green glasses” were on searching for all the Green Mickeys.

The Recycling Bin Hunt

During our visit, I was hunting recycling bins, most of which were in regular traffic paths for the public. The bins were plentiful and easy to find. However, there was NOT a recycling bin next to every single trash can at Disney. The bins only served cans and bottles, except for a select few that collected cardboard too. In 2010, Walt Disney World Resorts recycled more than 92,00o tons of material. According to other sources online, Walt Disney planned to have a trash can every 30 feet in Disney World, after visiting other theme parks. Apparently, recycling bins were added later. However, Disney does a fantastic job in providing recycling bins at all of their parks in Orlando – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Bins were equally available surrounding areas of food service. However, I did notice that recycling bins were not as readily available through the lines of attractions or character meets. We had to hang on to our recyclables until we were finished with that attraction. I am a dedicated recycler.

Recycling Bin in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom

Recycling bin in Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom

The Green Resort

Our hotel, the Swan and Dolphin Resort, also was going green, including resort-wide recycling, declining housekeeping services for a $5 voucher, and low-flow toilets. One of the first things I noticed were the recycling bins in the lobby, which we very impressive. We also had recycling services in our rooms, which included the ability to recycle paper, cardboard, bottles and cans. Nice and convenient. The resort’s webpage on its Swan and Dolphin Environmental Initiatives has an entire list of green practices at the resort.

Recycling bin at the Swan and Dolphin Resort

Mickey is Really Green

Walt Disney, the largest media and entertainment company in the world, is a true a model of sustainability and going green for the world. Maybe one day I could get a behind the scenes tour of the green features! Here are just a few of the company’s green facts:

  • Out of the 40 square miles at Walt Disney World Resort, 1/3 is dedicated wildlife conservation area.
  • Walt Disney World Resort has more than 1,500 alternative fuel vehicles, including monorails and golf carts.
  • Cinderella’s Castle is “green” with 170,000 LED lights to cover the castle during the holidays.
  • All 24 resort hotels participant in the Florida Green Lodging designation, representing the most for the state.
  • Disney Harvest program which provides food to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Central Florida, Disney Brings Green, End Hunger news release. In 2010, 360,000 pounds of food was donated.
  • The animals of Animal Kingdom are green and in 2010, more than 9,000 tons of compost was produced.
  • Recycled Content Items – Disney parks have increased the recycled content in a number of items. For example, celebration buttons are now made of 30% recycled steel, PhotoPass plastic cards are made of 95% recycled content, and all merchandise bags at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort are made of 100% recycled plastic.
  • The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fundhas contributed $15.6 million to conservation projects in 111 countries since 1995.

    Cinderella's Castle with 170,000 LED lights

Disney’s environmental news page provides an entire overview for all projects and programs that the company is doing. Here is a link to the 2010 Citizenship Report: http://corporate.disney.go.com/citizenship2010/index.html Here is a link to Disney’s corporate environmental page: http://corporate.disney.go.com/citizenship/environment.html

the author

Originally from Virginia, Jennifer C. Sellers is passionate about sustainability and conservation in South Carolina and throughout the world. She earned her BA in English from Coastal Carolina University and her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She is a university sustainability coordinator that implements programs and teaches people about going green and being sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @MyGreenGlasses

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