Disney Goes Green, Mostly

The Walt Disney Company recently announced plans to "go green," according to Treehugger. In the next 3-5 years the mogul plans to reduce carbon emissions by half, garbage waste by half, and electricity usage by 10%: a noble goal, but not altruistic. These environmentally appealing moves are economically astute at a time when most Americans are tightening their belts. Disney's shift is a recognition of common sense and basic economics. For sure, Disney's efforts to green up will require substantial up-front investment. But equally sure is the fact that these investments will pay off.

Disney will, of course, have a hard time cutting back on the carbon emissions from its two cruise ships, which are responsible for nearly half of the company's total emissions. But cutting electricity usage by 10%, easy for the average homeowner to do with a TED energy monitor and a couple compact fluorescent lightbulbs, will be equally painless for the entertainment giant. The ROI should be astronomical. There is an unverified rumor, moreover, that Disney plans to further cut fossil-fuel usage by utilizing more renewable "magical powers," abundant in the region. Woops.

One area of Disney that remains sadly un-green, however, is the Innoventions Dream Home in Anaheim, designed by Taylor Morrison and occupied by the fictional Elias family. There are at least 11 digital picture frames on the mantle alone, in addition to the screens of ambiguous function that line about every wall. Even the kitchen sink, uselessly and strangely, has an electronically operated retractable faucet. Dazzling technology or sad late-Roman/pre-recession decadence? We'll leave it to the market to decide, and keep an eye on retractable faucet sales over the next couple years.

In the meantime we can take a lesson from Microsoft's vision of 2019, laden as it is with rooftop gardens and electric cars, and bedecked as it is with music that's much better than Disney's. If Microsoft's future-world has as many touch-screens as Disney's, they're redeemed by their medical, educational, and generally humanistic utility. About 25 seconds into the video, too, you'll notice an electricity monitor on prominent display beside a future-man drinking his morning coffee. Of course. Because the future-man, like the Walt Disney Corporation, realizes the importance of prudent, sensible consumption. He also understands that the best way to do anything sensibly is to first become well-informed.

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