To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, the Disneyland Resort Environmental Integration team hosted a celebration to reveal the nominees for the 2022 Environmental Champion and Team of the Year, a peer recognition program designed to highlight individuals and teams making environmentally friendly changes in their work areas. Additionally, the 2020 winners were invited to this year’s event since we were not able to recognize them in person due to the resort’s closure. Each team was awarded $2,500 to donate towards their chosen charity.
2022 Environmental Champion of the Year:
Rhonda Wood, Horticulture & Resort Enhancement
The Disneyland Resort has a diverse display of foliage with approximately 16,000 living trees gracing the land. When a tree dies, there are few options to repurpose the extracted plant. They can either be sent to a third party to be turned into mulch or sent to a landfill.
One cast member, Rhonda Wood, had a vision to preserve the sentiments our cast members and guests have with the trees at the resort.
“I’ve been here for 25 years, I started off as a gardener and a climber pruning trees, and getting rid of trees never gets easy,” Rhonda said. Over the past few years, Rhonda established a new program to rescue urban lumber from the resort that approached the end of its life. =
“These are living elements that have been in the park for generations, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to create a program that can give those trees a new path,” she adds.
For Rhonda, retired resort trees deserve to live on as ambassadors to our brand’s commitment to be stewards of the land. She has preserved several of these trees that guests and cast members can see at various locations throughout the resort.
At Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, guests are greeted at Tenaya Stone Spa with a front desk made from lumber rescued from the Disneyland Resort by Rhonda and her team. Rhonda also led the effort to repurpose a cedar tree planted by Disneyland Resort Horticulture legend, Bill Evans, and the tree now serves as a desk for Tony Castillo, vice president of Facilities and Operation. Rhonda also participated in the Environmental Art Challenge with her team and submitted the art piece titled, “Gone but not Forgotten,” which used the stump of an olive tree (removed from Disneyland Hotel) as a base of a table.
2022 Environmental Team of the Year:
On stage Food Recovery: Galactic Grill & Walt Disney Imagineering
Reducing food waste is a huge point of focus in the environmental goals of the Disneyland Resort to help us achieve zero waste by 2030. Last year, Imagineers from Walt Disney Imagineering and the Operations cast members from Galactic Grill introduced the first set of trash cans with a separate food waste bin intended to help encourage guests to participate in food waste recovery during their visit.
Imagineers and Food & Beverage cast members at Galactic Grill faced the challenge of inviting guests to participate in sorting their own food waste. These two teams took a courageous step in volunteering to be the first location in the resort to test the new waste cans.
“I knew that the Environmental Team was looking for a location to test out the three-bin system. I volunteered because I knew that this team was flexible enough to do it,” said Brian Eastman, Food & Beverage production manager.
Galactic Grill cast members are taking ownership of the new system and of educating curious guests on how to properly sort their food. “There was no resistance, there were questions and everyone was really on board to figure it out from the beginning,” Brian said.
2020 Environmental Team of the Year:
The Chefs of Disneyland Resort
In 2019, Disneyland Resort chefs diverted more than 3,000 tons of food from the landfill, earning them the 2020 Environmental Team of the Year award. It became important to people like Chef John State, the Culinary Director of the Disneyland Resort, to act against food waste—developing recipes with sustainable resources and working with partners around the resort to create programs that donate excess food to local organizations like the Second Harvest OC Food Bank.
At the Disneyland Resort we’re on our way to send zero waste to landfill by 2030 as our teams learn and work together to find area-specific solutions. This Earth Month we zeroed in on zero waste and our cast members continue to support our initiatives resort wide.
2020 Environmental Champion of the Year:
Dave Steele oversees a multitude of work at the Disneyland Resort. As the Director of Distribution, Textile and Transportation Services, Dave manages anything from the trams to the linens used at the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort to warehouse operations. Even through varying departments across the company, Dave’s approach to sustainability is the same, challenging each team to find creative ways to divert waste from landfills. As the 2020 Disneyland Resort and The Walt Disney Company’s Environmental Champion of the Year, Dave has spearheaded many efforts like recycling Styrofoam, transporting merchandise to donation centers and ensuring all company assets go to Property Control, a cast member store that houses company assets after they are no longer needed. All these efforts combined divert waste to landfill, bringing Disneyland closer to a zero-waste future.