Disney promises to ban plastic straws, stirrers, cups and more

Disney castle
CC BY 2.0 Hernán Piñera

And what Disney does, little kids want to emulate! This could be big.

The latest corporation to jump on the plastic reduction bandwagon is none other than the Walt Disney Company. In a press release, the company has announced its intention to reduce the amount of plastic generated by its stores, parks, and cruise ships.

By mid-2019, all Disney-branded locations around the world will phase out plastic straws and stirrers, a move that is estimated to save 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers from being tossed every year.

On Disney cruise ships, "refillable in-room amenities" will be added to the guest rooms; the press release does not specify what exactly these are, but we're imagining refillable shampoo, conditioner, and soap containers, perhaps reusable cups instead of water bottles, and cloth hand towels. Whatever these may be, the company says it will lead to an impressive 80 percent decrease in the amount of plastic waste in guest rooms.

Improving matters even further, Disney says it will "complete [its] work to eliminate polystyrene cups across our global owned and operated business." That means disposable plastic cups, gone! And we're big fans of that.

In the words of Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International,

“Disney has always been inspired by nature – and it is a uniquely powerful brand that inspires, educates, and entertains, all at the same time. Today’s announcement is more than about reducing single-use plastic waste, it’s also about showing millions of kids and adults from around the world the many ways we can change our daily habits to care for the oceans and protect nature that sustains us all."

I think this point is crucial. Disney does have a powerful influence on the youngest generation of humans, and is well-positioned to inspire and effect change in ways that perhaps other, more adult-oriented efforts cannot. Particularly if it pairs these plastic-reduction efforts with clear messaging that educates kids, it has great potential to spread awareness further afield.

Way to go, Disney!

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