Cut Back on Waste During Your Next Disney Vacation With These 9 Easy Tips
Now that traveling is picking back up again (yay!), being conscious about (and trying to reduce) your carbon footprint has never been more important. While living a more eco-friendly life may sound intimidating and even inconvenient, it really is about making a handful of small changes in order to make a big difference. And that's still true for traveling to the happiest place on Earth: Disney! There are many small changes and simple swaps you can make while on vacation to cut back on waste and help the environment. (Thinking about just how much waste the Disney parks must go through on a daily basis should be enough motivation to just try!) So the next time you go on a Disney vacation, which is hopefully soon, challenge your crew to adopt these green practices. From using reusable straws (that are actually easy to clean!) to recycling your Disney hotel soap, keep reading to see them all now.
Bring Your Own Water Bottle
The best Disney budget hack is that you can score free water at any quick service location . . . but those cups add up. Instead, bring your own water bottle and fill it up for free at one of several water bottle filling stations across the parks. At my bachelorette party at Disney, I gave reusable tumblers as gifts. These were great to use by the pool and limited how many plastic cups and straws we used from the bar.
Stay in a Green Hotel
One of the easiest ways to go green on your Disney trip is to stay in eco-friendly lodging, and you can find it right on resort property. All three Disneyland hotels are on the California Green Lodging Program list at the highest green rating for "water and energy conservation, waste minimization, recycling, environmentally friendly purchasing, program sustainability, and pollution prevention." And if you're looking for more budget-friendly rooms, the Hilton Anaheim is within walking distance of Disneyland and earned CGLP's second-highest green rating. The state of Florida has a similar initiative with the Florida Green Lodging Program and more than 20 Walt Disney World resort hotels made the list, from the value rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort to the deluxe digs at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Bring Reusable Straws
In 2018, Disney announced it would replace single-use plastic straws at theme parks, and today, if you order a soda or Dole Whip float, you'll get an eco-friendly paper straw. While these are much better for the environment, they get soggy fast — especially when you're sipping on a slushie in the hot sun. Skip the park straws altogether and bring your own reusable straw. The one I have from Amazon comes in an easy travel case and includes a tiny travel brush to really get in there and clean. Disney has also started selling reusable straws, especially for food festivals at Epcot, and it's a neat souvenir that's totally practical and usable at home, too.
Bring Reusable Utensils
In addition to straws, you can cut down on single-use plastics by bringing your own reusable utensils. That way, you won't use so many plastic forks and spoons at quick service restaurants and festival booths. Festivals at Epcot are a great time to bring a reusable spork so that you can hop around the world snacking without trashing utensils at each pavilion. Disney has even started selling speciality-themed sporks in different lands, from the galactic space spork at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge to the adorable Spike the Bee spork for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
One of the easiest ways to go green when planning your Disney vacation is to order tickets and make FastPass+ reservations online and sync them to your Disney app. At Disney World, you can use the My Disney Experience app or your Magic Band throughout the park for tickets, FastPass+ reservations, and hotel room keys. Magic Bands aren't currently used at Disneyland but you can still use your phone for tickets via the Disneyland Mobile App versus paper tickets. And these apps are so much more than a Disney wallet! You can access real-time ride wait times, the nearest restroom locations, order food, and more.
Take the Bus
If you're staying at a Disney World resort, you have access to free, complimentary transportation to all four parks, two water parks, and Disney's outdoor shopping center, Disney Springs, but some methods are smoother than others. The brand-new Skyliner makes it easy to zip back and forth from Epcot to Disney's Hollywood Studios, but for parks such as Disney's Animal Kingdom, you have to take the bus . . . and sometimes the buses take forever. It's tempting to splurge on Lyft rides to hop around the parks quickly, but the more eco-friendly mode is the bus. And that's not just because it's mass transit — it's because Disney buses run on a renewable diesel made from used cooking oil and nonconsumable food waste. And just think of the extra wait time as more bonding time for the fam!
Even if you're not vegetarian or vegan, having Meatless Monday at home can help offset your carbon footprint, and you can still continue that tradition at Disney! Tons of new plant-based entrees, snacks, and desserts have recently made their way to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and these new dishes, such as the Ronto-Less Wrap at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, can fool even the pickiest of carnivores.
Recycle Your Hotel Soap
Disney fans love to collect items that might otherwise go straight into the trash, like swizzle sticks, coasters, and free festival passports with stickers. But there's a new trend in the Disney World community to collect extra, unused soaps from hotels (especially the fancier, deluxe Disney hotels). These brag soaps are great if you intend to use them at home or on your next trip, but if they're just going to collect dust in your bathroom drawer, you're better off leaving them in your hotel room. Why? Because Disney World sends its unused soap to Clean the World, an organization that recycles them into new bars of soap. Yes, recycled soap is a thing! The nonprofit works with hotels to gather unused soap that is then crushed, sanitized, and recut into bars of soap for those in need in more than 100 countries. You can even volunteer at the Clean the World headquarters in Orlando and sort soap and hygiene kits for the homeless.
Help the Disney Conservation Fund
One of Walt Disney's greatest passions was wildlife conservation, and today the Disney Conservation Fund has directed more than $70 million to reverse the decline of wildlife and endangered species. You can help the DCF at Animal Kingdom by either purchasing merchandise that gives back or making a donation yourself at select stores and quick service restaurants. If you donate, you'll get a free button similar to Disney's celebration buttons.