I love Disney but I also love the environment and finding ways to reduce my consumption. Trying to live a slightly more sustainable life has been something that I've been working on the last couple of years. Each year I find new ways to reduce waste and consumption in my day-to-day life and let's be honest, going to Disney is not something that I can consider to be environmentally friendly. Using all that energy, water, and goods on entertainment on the scale the parks do is a far cry from a sustainable vacation destination. I really struggled with how to marry my love of Disney Parks with desire to make this planet a little greener!
Usually when I am thinking about ways to be sustainable I think about the tried and true phrase, "reduce, reuse, recycle". The first step is always to try to reduce the amount of things you use, especially one-time use items. The second is to reuse the things you have bought to make them last. And the third, make sure you try to recycle as much of those items you use and consume.
So after thinking about this conundrum for awhile with the knowledge that I was not going to stop going to the Disney Parks I came up with a list of things that I want to implement when I vacation and wanted to share them with you!
STEP 1: REDUCE!
1. Spend Money On Experiences, Not Stuff
There have been many studies on the fact that experiences more than stuff increases overall happiness so instead of creating a budget line for souvenirs why not move that into your "experience" bucket! Let's say you normally budget $100 per person per trip. You could combine that with your normal food budget and have a REALLY nice meal out. You could even spring for a night out at Victoria and Albert's!
Here are some other things you could spend your souvenir money on:
- Dessert Party
- Halloween/Christmas Party
- Massage or Spa Treatment
- Water Park Day! (Typhoon Lagoon is my happy place!)
- Round of Putt-Putt
- Extra Ice Cream (we can all use some more Beaches and Cream in our lives, right??)
- A runDisney 5k!
- A cool guided tour!
2. Eat At Restaurants That Don't Use Paper Products
This one is harder to do at Disney World than at Disneyland since most of the counter service restaurants use paper products. The first option is to eat more table service meals but that can break the bank at Disney. (here is a list from Disney Tourist Blog on best value Table Service meals though!) So here are some things you can do:
- Use a real mug for the in-room coffee maker (if you are staying at a resort that has a coffee maker in room)
- Only grab the napkins you need, the utensils you need, and avoid straws if you can. Again it's all about reducing your consumption!
- If you are ordering a beer, get one that they have on tap rather than one that they only have in a bottle or can!
- Make sure everything you get ends up in the right type of waste bin (aka trash or recycling)
3. Don't Hoard The Shampoo Bottles
I admit it. I have a collection of Disney toiletries stashed away that I use when guests come to visit but don't get used for much else. Do I need these? No and I'm glad that they have started installing the large bottles in some rooms so I'm not tempted to take more. This is a small thing but all those small plastic bottles really add up. Again, reduce your consumption or just try to be more mindful. Maybe just try to take one fewer sets home this next vacation? Every little bit helps!
4. Don't Go Crazy WIth That #HotelLife
The hotel life is sweet. Electricity that is "free". Clean sheets everyday. Clean towels. Clean everything, EVERDAY! But all that cleaning and washing uses a lot of water and energy. So listen to that Jiminy Cricket sign and hang up and reuse those towels and ask for your sheets to get changed less frequently. If your hotel is offering to give you a gift card for refusing room keeping, that's a no-brainer! You can still request clean towels or trash service if you need it.
Are you a dawn-to-dusk park goer? Try not to crank that A/C down when you aren't in the room. Some say the most efficient temperature for a thermostat is 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius). When you get back at night you can crank if back down but it will help if you use less energy when you aren't in your room!
5. Refuse Shopping Bags
You are probably already carrying around a bag at the parks so if you can, try to put your souvenirs in there instead of having the cashier give you a plastic bag. I hate that moment at the end of a trip when you are repacking (well I could stop there because that's really the thing I hate the most) and I have a stack of Disney Parks bags that I have to throw away.
STEP 2: REUSE!
1. Get That Resort Mug!
The resort mug is the one thing I buy nearly every trip, I really love getting one for my runDisney trips to make sure I'm staying hydrated and I also tend to use the resort more on those trips. The resort mug is a fun souvenir, makes getting a beverage faster, and a great way to reduce the number of paper cups that you'll go through on your trip. This is a win-win-win!
2. Get a Reusable Water Bottle
While I spent a year working at Disney World as an intern I acclimated to the taste of Florida water, but even I admit that that tap water has a funk. Before my last trip I got a Brita Water Bottle and it was awesome! It got rid of the funk and meant I could refill it anywhere without going through a bunch of plastic bottles.
Pro-tip: Especially in the summer, let the drinking fountain run for a couple of seconds before drinking/filling your water bottle. This will filter the water that was in the pipes that got hot out of the way and get you the colder water, it even works on the older fountains in the Magic Kingdom!
STEP 3: RECYCLE!
This is an easy one, recycle. Recycle everything you can. Bottles, cans, everything you can and please put it in the right bin. Make sure to also not get lazy and dump everything in the same bin. It takes 2 seconds to make sure you are putting the right items in the right bins and helps so much!
So that's my list of things that I'm going to try to focus on when I'm at Walt Disney World. It's vacation so these adjustments shouldn't feel like a burden. Vacation is fun so if vacation means 10 sets of bottles and a dozen Disney Parks bags go home with you because you like having that magic around, do it! I just wanted to share some thoughts so we can keep the "World" a little greener!