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Disney's Stunt Is No Help to the Planet

The press release says Disney will "oversee" the planting but doesn't give a timetable or name a partner organization that will do the actually digging. There has to be one. But I think Disney purposely left the group anonymous so moviegoers could imagine an army of animators and amusement-park workers heading to Brazil with saplings and shovels in hand.

A query e-mail and phone call to the company went unanswered.

The press release also failed to estimate how many trees we're talking about -- probably because this would effectively be an outlook on expected ticket sales. The New York Times' Carpetbagger surmises that if the movie does very, very, very well, there could be a half-million new trees in the Atlantic Forest.

But even if Disney did put some reasonable thought into what is probably an OK environmental activity and plans to carry it out responsibly, what about the next publicity stunt by another company that doesn't attract the sort of scrutiny that this corporation does, and the one after that?

If companies try to save the planet as one-off marketing schemes rather than a workaday expression of their mission and corporate values, how well thought out, responsible and enduring is the activity going to be? These events could turn out to be well-intentioned but actually somewhat irresponsible. At the very least they undermine the importance of ongoing, sustainable environmental responsibility by suggesting that occasional one-off, feel good endeavors do the job just as well.

In the end, it's a real Mickey Mouse way to try to help the environment.

Eileen P. Gunn writes about the business of life and is the author of "Your Career Is An Extreme Sport." You can learn more about her at her Web site.
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