Archive for February, 2009

Waste Please?

waste1Images strike me at the oddest times. This trash can at Epcot grabbed my attention (and yes it was in America, does anybody see the irony here?)  and all I can say is…..

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Words are important.  While I am sure the designer of this trash can wasn’t aiming to encourage wastefulness, it it the literal message.  Words have meaning, even the on a meaningless trash can.


Disney Double talk – The Circle of Life

Up to this point I have been pretty happy with the sustainable side of Disney, but like most big companies there is always double talking greenwash.   Unfortunately, this one is aimed at the kids, who will totally buy into the continual stream of happy happy that Disney serves.

In the corner of the Epcot’s Land Pavilion, there is an attraction called The Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable.  This is in the mid sized Harvest Theater.  It is an “educational” film geared to the kids but tolerable for adults.  Timon and Pumbaa are attempting to develop the untamed wild to make a lake side village.  They first dam up the river to create their lake.  Simba steps in and shows the two the error of their ways and saves the day for all the dehydrating wildlife downstream.  Nice story…….. Come on!  Seriously

disney-parkingNo one has dumped more concrete and asphalt into the wilds of Florida than Disney.  They have developed acres upon acres of swamp land.  Ask yourself this, what happened to all of that wildlife.  I know Disney is making tremendous strides in sustainable practices and their wildlife conservation and is stupendous, they are to be applauded for these efforts.  But please don’t tell these kids (aka future developers of the world)  that the exact same thing that you have done is bad for the rest of the world.

Perhaps the story could be better presented on how to build a sustainable lakeside village?  I am sure that the imagineers would be able to craft a sustainable story that wouldn’t be so hypocritical.  Or perhaps an in-depth look on the changes that a developing Disney has made on its environment.

I could not have had a better time while I was at Disney.  I am glad that there are places in the world like this.  But for me, this show was a veiled attempt at green brainwashing in order to secure the future Disney has a bit less competition in the world. 

If you have bought tickets to Disney or paid for a meal at one of their parks you will quickly understand that at Disney it is all about the money.  Disney does not do anything that won’t be profitable for them in some way, either directly or through warm fuzzy feelings.  As one very nice quick witted older man noted as he exited another ride into a gift shop,   …..”ahhh more shopping.  Just watch your money leave your wallet…. It’s Magical!”

Disney’s Land at Disney World

Well the visit to Disney World has flown by. With a less than stellar Internet connection, I haven’t been able to post from WDW’s Dolphin as I wished.  But I took lots of great notes and I will be putting up posts in the days to come.

While you are waiting for your Epcot Soarin’ fast pass ticket time to roll boat-touraround here is a sustainability minded recommendation.  In Epcot’s Land Building, I went on the Living with the Land boat ride/tour.  It was an interesting look at a very different side of Disney.  First the ride is a gentle boat ride through 3 different eco systems – rainforest, desert and grassland prairie.  Then a nice replica of an America farmhouse front porch.  This flows into the improvements in Agriculture that have been made of the past years.  This is where my interests start to peak.  After a few large screens that segue into pest management you enter the greenhouses.  melonThe sights come fast and furious at this point.  Bananas, Papayas, Jack Fruit, on and on with exotic and non exotic varieties of plants.  This is where I decided to opt for the extensive walking tour after this boat ride.  I could see I was interested in what they had to say.  So after the tropical greenhouse, fish farm, and other greenhouse spaces you end the peaceful trip a little more aware of the impact we have made on the land.

After the boat tour, I went to sign up for the Behind the Seeds tour.  This is located at the Soarin’ information desk.  The tour takes about an hour and is well worth it if you have even a passing interest in either growing or eating anything agricultural.  The tour is an additional fee of $16.  Be sure to check out the discounts that apply.  I am a member of AAA but didn’t have my card with me and the very nice attendant gave it to me anyway.  So mine tour was $13.

The Behind the Seeds walking tour starts in the pest management area.  A very informative short film is narrated by your guide.  Lady Bugs and Wasps are the good guys in this one.  Their non-pesticide effects on harmful pests are impressive.

Our guide was a student intern from Colorado State.  He said that they had the intern positions for a six month period.  Smart guy, he picked the right seeds-pansix months to be in Florida versus Colorado. 

In the greenhouses there are many experiments on how things are grown tom-plantand produced.  Sort of a build a better plant workshop – faster, bigger and stronger.  One of the tomato plants that was developed from a Chinese variety has been trimmed and trained into a tree.  They believe that this technique produces more tomatoes per plant than a typical plant.  After seeing it, I would have to be a believer as well.  One of the plants lived and produced for 16 months.  It yielded a record crop of 32,000 tomatoes!

vert-growAnother very interesting technique on the tour was the space saving plantings.  A strawberry farmer developed these vertical growing stacks.  These were made out of Styrofoam forms but I think you could make them out of many different types of containers.  It not only saves space but in large operations it saved the workers backs.

Not only were they researching hydroponics but aeroponics as well.  Here are some brussel sprout plants that are hooked up to a hanging conveyor system.  They circle around the circuit and get sprayed with water, needing no soil or ground space to produce vegetables.  The spray system is contained so any extra water the plant doesn’t absorb will be reclaimed fish-with-boat-tourback into he system for reuse for the next plant.  Check out my video link on the sidebar for this moving system.

The fish farming part of the tour is inside the red shrouded room.  It was explained by our intern that the red helps to keep the algae production down, in turn keeping the tanks cleaner.  There were Talapia, shrimp, American alligator, catfish, sturgeon, striped bass, and eel.  The Talapia were scarey looking fish.  They are ravetalapianous feeders.  Even though they are mostly harmless for us, I was not about to put my hand in the tank as one of the other tourists were allowed to do.  He said it felt like sandpaper.  They were also integrating a system of talapia with plants and using the fish waste as a fertilizer for the plants.

The kids on the walking tour didn’t seem to get bored with the grown up topics, so if you can talk your family into an hour more of walking I would recommend this for all Disney goers.  Look past the silliness of the Disney shaped pumpkins and cucumbers and look into the benefits of Disney research.  We could all benefit from the research done in this place.

Green Ears at Disney

So here I am a Sketchup using, Autocad drawing, Revit Modeling architect in the middle of SolidWorks World 2009 at Disney, what the heck?  I am here with Matt using up some vacation time and soaking up some sun.  While Matt has been busy maintaining his rock star status, I have been off on my own being a kid again.  Of course I have noticed lots of sustainable efforts and non-efforts here at Disney.  The sustainable message is coming through loud and clear at most Disney parks and hotels.  Over the next few days I will be looking at some of their sustainable features.


So let’s start with the basics.  We are staying at the Dolphin with in recycling-bagthe Epcot Resorts.  The sustainability of the hotel is pretty good.  They offer the usual linen reuse.  But a new feature I haven’t seen before is in room recycling.  Two bags are left for use to utilize: paper for newspapers and a small plastic one for cans and recycling-cartbottles.


Transportation is provided throughout the entire Disney complex.  We parked the car when we arrived and it is doubtful that we will move it until we leave.  Walking paths are everywhere.  Water Taxis go to Epcot, the Boardwalk, and Hollywood Studios.  Efficient clean air buses go everywhere.  The quiet monorail still runs between Epcot and Disney.  Moving masses efficiently and cleanly is important to Disney and they are successful at it.


One note on recycling that strikes me, the hotels and all the parks have recycling available.  Although it is more prevalent at the newer parks, there are fewer recycling opportunities at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.  It takes space to recycle and good planning in the newer parks has allowed for that.


I image it takes a huge effort for a big machine like Disney to move into a sustainable mind set but I do believe that they are doing some of the things right.  I will be added more posts in the days ahead about some of the in depth things I see.  So when you head to Disney put your green ears on and have a magical day.