Every year, Earth Day falls on April 22nd. And every year, we feel like Earth Day is really just New Year’s day, take 2. People everywhere make big plans to save the planet, resolutions to stop using plastic, and pledges to take more public transportation. And a few weeks later, we all forget about those promises we made to Mother Earth and go back to our devious ways. Of course, we do our best when we are at home to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum. But it can be easy to forget when we travel! So the question is, is it possible to travel eco-friendly on a Disney Vacation? It absolutely is! This is how.
Eco Friendly Travel
A lot of people think it’s difficult to maintain an eco-friendly lifestyle when traveling and we get that! No one is perfect, and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be. But, if we could all be a little more conscious about our decisions when traveling, a lot of small actions can really add up.
Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
You can get free water at quick-service counters throughout Disney, or you can fill your water bottle at your resort before you leave, so skip the plastic water bottles and bring a reusable one instead. We love Proof because it’s sturdy, has customizable options, and keeps your drink crazy cold (or hot) for hours. You can save 25% on yours with code Polkadotpixies25. Buying bottled water at Disney is expensive, so bringing your own water will save you money, while also helping the planet.
Skip the Straws and Single-Use Flatware
One of our favorite ways to travel eco-friendly on a Disney Vacation is to skip the silverware. Instead, bring reusable ones. We know skipping straws or the endless supply of plastic ware entirely can be tough, but with so many options these days, this is a great alternative to using plastic ones. And you can grab reusable bamboo utensils anywhere, but if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, you can grab a 2 pack of reusable flatware and straws for under 12 bucks here.
Take the Eco-Friendly Transportation at Walt Disney World
Just like public transportation at home, Disney transportation is your most eco-friendly option here. Even if you’re not staying on property you can still use Disney transportation to park hop or visit resorts. Not only is it more friendly to the environment, but you won’t have to worry about paying for parking or dealing with Orlando traffic. And if you’ve booked a Disney resort take the magical express. Disney’s initiative to make transport from the airport to the resorts is not only convenient but also helps limit your carbon footprint, gas usage, and congestion on Orlando roads.
Travel Eco Friendly with reusable totes for shopping
Or skip the plastic bag if your purchase is small enough and put it in your day bag. And really, a tote is always needed last minute anyway, for that leftover food you don’t want to waste, or those Mickey Ears you’re tired of wearing. So many uses!!! Reusable totes will soon be the standard at Walt Disney World, so be prepared to bring your own or pay for them in the future.
Switch to a reef safe sunscreen
Want a more Eco Friendly Disney trip? You’re going to need sunscreen anyway, so why not make sure it’s reef safe? Reef safe sunscreen isn’t hard to find and we love this one from Walmart. Some island destinations have stated that in the future, reef safe sunscreen will be the only kind of sunscreen allowed on their islands, so we might as well get used to it now and help our ocean’s reefs!
Turn off the Lights, Close the Curtains and Keep your Air Conditioned Room at 72.
Be mindful before you leave home and your Walt Disney World Resort room to turn off the lights, tv, and turn off or adjust your air conditioning and heating to optimal levels ( 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter to save energy ). While anything around the 72 mark is fine, be aware of how hard the air or heat will have to work while you’re away in the parks. Also keeping your curtains in the resort closed helps naturally protect the room from unwanted outdoor temperatures. Simple, yes. But just another small thing you can do that makes a big difference.
Support the Artisan Crafts at Animal Kingdom
Across Disney Parks, there are many offerings of handmade items that honor someone’s work. The bulk of the handiwork can be found in Animal Kingdom. Small pouches, bracelets, sculptures, scarves, and more are created by small communities or villages and offered for sale. As part of Disney’s conservation efforts sales of these handicraft items help support healthcare, education, farming, waste and water management systems, and sustainability. Check the tag on the items for which efforts they support.
More Eco-Friendly Outfits for your Walt Disney World vacation
It’s no surprise by now that Disney Style has really become prevalent in and outside of the Parks these days. Heck, the DisneyStyle Instagram account alone has over 1 million followers and is growing at lightning speed. We love Disney Style as much as any other Disney fan, but it does create a need in many fans to constantly buy new things, so they can have new outfits and new looks for their Instagram accounts. Our suggestion to balance style and be kind to the environment is to REUSE! Find versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create new looks without having to buy or wash anything additional. Shop at thrift stores to find vintage and pre-loved items, or shop through apps like Poshmark, eBay, or Depop to find unique pieces that sellers are looking to get rid of. And when you’re done with your fashionable pieces, sell or donate them so someone else can reduce their carbon footprint too!
If you are dead set on buying new items, shop with brands who are finding ways to decrease their impact on the environment. Sperry recently launched a new line of shoes made from recycled water bottles and BoxLunch carries an entire Wall-E line of recycled tees and eco-friendly products. The options are endless so challenge yourself to find some environmentally friendly outfits the next time you’re planning for a trip!
Adidas also recently released an entire Disney collection made up of recycled materials. You can shop the Disney x Adidas line here! H&M always has cute Disney items, and has recently started making some of the more eco-conscious!
Eco-Friendly Travel Coffee Edition
Sometimes the simplest things can go a long way. What if we all gave up our coffee sleeves for one day, or better yet, forever? We love handmade coffee cozies for our coffee cups and have never looked back since discovering them! They’re cute, affordable, and help reduce waste from your daily latte. And if you shop small, you’re also supporting a small business. You can find a variety on Etsy and Instagram from small shop owners!
Utilize what your hotel has to offer
Whether your hotel has a Green program like the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin, or has the built-in toiletries like the refurbished Disney resorts, take advantage of your hotel’s efforts when it comes to conservation. Little things like using less plastic from toiletries, using less water to wash towels, etc. can all add up in a big way!
- Hang your towels after showering, rather than tossing them on the floor.
- Use the provided shampoo, conditioner, and body wash provided in the built-in dispensers instead of bringing your own.
- Decline housekeeping (Mousekeeping) services and re-use what you have. Some guests can get a gift card by choosing this option but it’s for the committed eco-traveler and not for the faint of heart. Check with the front desk for the particulars.
- Take the offered toiletries! They are often not used on the next guest for sanitation purposes, so get thrown out, causing more waste. Consider it a free Disney souvenir.
If not staying on Disney Property then choose a Hotel brand that works to be sustainable. You can see the top list of sustainable hotels here.
Take the Tours at Disney
The Wild Africa Trek and The Behind the Seeds Tours at Walt Disney World both support conservation efforts. So you get an absolutely amazing educational and fun journey and can feel great about knowing it was all for a good cause. Supporting these tours also supports the education and research at the parks, helping Disney do even more good for the planet.
Eat the Veggies!
Disney is a foodie wonderland if ever there was one. BUT, limiting your meat consumption is good for people, animals, and the planet! Luckily, Walt Disney World is working to support eco-friendly eaters offering plant-based dining options. Far from “just salad”, Disney is offering new vegetarian and vegan options in every Disney Park!
You can take advantage of the Disney restaurants like Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ or California Grill that use locally grown foods to help sustain local farmers. If you’re a fan of Living with the Land, you can actually see some of your food is grown right on Walt Disney World property! And restaurants like Sunshine Seasons and Garden Grill serve those foods right inside their restaurants as well.
Limit Travel but Stay Longer
We love our long vacations. Our favorite Disney Vacations are the ones that run around the 12-14 day mark. Yes, two weeks! By taking fewer but longer trips, you are using less plane fuel and using less gas in your hometown. And another benefit of a longer Walt Disney World vacation is that you can actually get a better deal on rooms and tickets when you stay longer.!
Choose Eco-Friendly Travel to Walt Disney World
So which is better? Planes, trains or automobiles? Well, it really depends on how far you’re driving, what you’re driving, and so on. But if you’re trying to be more eco-friendly and want to fly, you do have some options. Some airlines have been trying to make their flights more green. And if you’re using Skyscanner to track the best flight prices, they also indicate when a flight is more eco-friendly. Just look for the little green leaf.
Lots of Family? Road Trip to Disney: This works best if you’re within 6 hours of the parks. Any farther and it’s more eco-friendly to fly or go by train.
Book Non-Stop Flights: Planes guzzle gas and ruin our hopes to save the planet. BUT, planes use the most gas and release the most emissions during takeoffs and touchdowns. So booking Non-Stop flights and making that a priority when you travel will help you limit your footprint.
Take Reusable Items into the Parks
A good Disney vacation already includes a reusable water bottle and reusable silverware. But you can also grab reusable food pouches for leftover snacks, reusable ponchos or raingear instead of disposable ones, reusable wipes, and a reusable cooling towel for hot days.
Just Vacationing at Disney is Eco-Friendly
Yep, you read that right. Your choice to visit any Disney Park worldwide means you support conservation efforts and are on your way to becoming an Eco-Friendly traveler. The Walt Disney Company is working towards a “zero waste” goal, recycling, reducing and reusing just about everything. They’ve sectioned off about 1/3rd of their entire property at Walt Disney World for Wildlife Conservation. The Aulani Resort in Hawaii is silver-level LEED-certified, meaning that the building itself is streamlined to the utmost efficiency using natural materials. The lights at Disney are specially designed to not disrupt bird migratory patterns at night. Even Disneyland Paris completely eliminated plastic straws this month. Check out the long list of Environmentally friendly actions Disney does every day.
Enjoy some of the magic at home
Travelling will always create a bigger environmental footprint than staying at home. So, if you’re someone who has decided to take fewer but longer trips to minimize your footprint, you can always enjoy some Disney magic at home to help tide you over until your next trip. We have a whole Disney ay Home section to give you ideas!
Eco-Friendly Travel at Disney
Luckily, when you travel to Walt Disney World you can rest assured that you have made a great choice by choosing to support a company that supports our planet. Add in all the little tips we’ve shared here and you’ll be well on your way to the Eco-Friendly Traveler A-List. How do you help limit your environmental footprint when traveling? Let us know what else we should add to the list?
Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .