Although I hate roller coasters (much to my boyfriend’s chagrin), I do love a good amusement park. The fried foods, the Ferris wheels, the actors walking around in oversized cartoon suits — that’s all good stuff. However, I also associate theme and amusement parks with waste. No matter how well the park is maintained, it seems like every few feet there are trashcans overflowing with plastic bottles and other recyclable materials. In addition to all the refuse, there are the giant rides and other attractions, all covered in flashing lights, using up electricity like crazy. So, what can be done? For one thing, you can check with your local amusement park to see if it has recycling or energy conservation programs, and if it doesn’t, request that they be considered. There are also several theme parks out there that already have instituted eco-friendly initiatives. If they’re close to you, check them out! And, if nothing else, they offer good models for other theme parks to emulate. Six Flags, one of the most popular amusement park chains in the country, last year launched an effort to convert all of its diesel-powered vehicles to run on vegetable oil generated in Six Flags kitchens; reduce the consumption of electricity by switching to LED lamps and lights; install low-flow, high-efficiency water fixtures; plant water-saving vegetation and groundcover; and, in partnership with Coca-Cola, add several thousand additional recycling bins to its parks. Another big amusement park player, the Walt Disney Company, has its own environmental policy that focuses on minimizing waste, conserving water and energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting local ecosystems. If you’re ever on the other side of the pond, Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is apparently one of the greenest (not to mention oldest) amusement parks in the world. Like Six Flags, the park uses biofuel for its vehicles and LED lights whenever possible. It also has an impressive recycling program that keeps some 1.2 million plastic cups out of landfills each year; uses environmentally friendly cleaning products; utilizes local, seasonal and vegetarian ingredients in its eateries; and even has a wind turbine that the park hopes will one day be able to power the entire space. (I love Europe!) Did you go to any theme or amusement parks this summer? If so, what (if any) recycling or energy conservation efforts did you notice?
Recycling at the Theme Park
Well known as energy hogs and waste generators, theme parks are starting to change their ways.