Remove Single Use Plastic from Florida's Themeparks
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This petition aims to make Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida consider and act on reducing their consumption of single-use plastics to help reduce global plastic pollution and save our oceans. Photo by Mac Smith.
What are single-use plastics?
Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These are items such as plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, water bottles and most food packaging.
Why are single-use plastics bad?
Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans and single-use plastics are huge contributors. Plastic in the ocean threatens wildlife as they become entangled or mistake it for food. Moreover, plastic can cause habitat disruption. In addition to affecting animals, plastic pollution affects humans and life on land too: our wild spaces, oxygen supply and our health are all at risk. (For more information on how plastic pollution affects our oceans and human life please see Surfers Against Sewage, https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/plastic-pollution/plastic-pollution-facts-figures/ OR The Plastic Pollution Coalition, http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/the-movement
So where do Theme Parks come in?!
Since starting the Disney College Program, I have been fortunate enough to visit Walt Disney World Theme Parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Disney Springs) and Universal Studios Florida Theme Parks (Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay and Aquatica) as I please. However, during my visits, the large consumption of single-use plastics by both companies stood out more so than ever. Consider a friends dining experience as an example; at a quick service restaurant, the amount of single-use plastics for one meal is as follows
1 x plastic plate
1 x three-piece set of plastic cutlery (knife, fork and spoon)
1 x plastic lid on drink OR a drink in a plastic bottle
1 x plastic straw
That totals six individual single-use plastic items for one standard meal. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom had 52,964 average visitors per day in 2014 totalling 19,332,000 for the year (See TEA/AECOM Theme Park Attendance Report). With these stats, if each visitor had just one standard meal during their visit that would make 115,992,000 items of single-use plastic that could potentially contribute to plastic pollution and end up in the sea. What’s more attendance is on the rise, further multiplying single-use plastics.
Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida have taken some steps towards being more green; they do have recycle bins for plastic bottles and aluminium cans, and some restaurants in Disney, such as Coranado Springs Resort’s Pepper Market and the new Satu’il Canteen restaurant in Animal Kingdom’s Pandora, use metal cutlery that can be washed and reused – thus reducing single-use plastic cutlery. Furthermore, Disney’s Animal Kingdom opts for paper straws, to protect their animals, and Water Parks ban straws completely (albeit to protect filters). But, as huge players in the theme park industry, and given their status, they can and should be great influencers to encourage other theme parks to also step in the right direction of reducing and boycotting single-use plastics to help save our seas.
Ways in which the theme parks could boycott single-use plastics:
- Use metal cutlery that can be washed and reused OR use biodegradable cutlery.
- Change plates and straws to paper and ensure that they are recycled.
- Opt for paper bags over plastic bags where possible. -Offer reusable souvenier cups that can be purchased(much like the popcorn buckets sold; Universal Studios offers a cup with $1 refills.)
We need to act now to save our seas. While Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida alone are not going to change the plastics crisis – they are leaders in the theme park industry and thus hold an important place in being able to model what’s necessary – which is a move away from single-use plastic that can end up in our oceans. Hopefully both companies can make a huge impact and act as examples for other companies to follow.
(This has been edited but was originally wrote by Jasmine Clark. The goal is to reduce plastic use in themeparks. If I can get the signatures needed I will then go on to speak with Universal or Disney representatives. Lets take this step together to make the change we want to see in this world!)
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