We want to begin by saying that we applaud Disney for its aggressive plan to become carbon emission free and generate zero waste in the near future. That’s a bold goal that we think Walt Disney would be incredibly proud of and we hope it comes true. It also may have you asking why we’d write an article about the carbon footprint of a Disney vacation. The reason is that, in many if not all cases, the carbon footprint generated is from choices that guests and travelers make rather than from anything that the destination itself is doing. And because the two Disney properties, Disneyland and Disney World, are such hugely popular vacation destinations for families and individual adults alike, we thought we’d arm you with how your carbon footprint can easily add up on your Disney trip.
Firstly, It’s Almost Inevitable that You’re Traveling and Using Fuel
We hesitate to even bring this one up since the reality is that you’d put travel fuel imprint into the world even if you went to the most eco-friendly destination you could possibly come up with. In fact, since much eco-travel is remote you may even end up doing more fossil fuel damage. But it’s important that you at least give the travel fuel footprint some thoughtful consideration when you plan your Disney trip. Will you need to take multiple cars or drive a fuel inefficient larger vehicle? If so you may want to simply consider taking a consolidated travel solution like a plane or bus. Consider all of your options and make a decision about convenience versus social and ethical issues. Where you land on that decision spectrum is a purely personal choice, but we do want you to give it some thought.
What Food and Beverage Choices are You Making While You’re There?
If you’re eating on the park grounds, then most of what you’re eating and what it’s packaged in will fall under Disney’s zero emissions, zero waste plan. But let’s be honest. Eating on the park grounds is expensive and many visitors stay offsite and eat offsite for at least part of their vacation. And when you do eat off site, where are you eating? Chances are you’re choosing based on price point, which often means the opposite of “responsibly sourced” or “green friendly.” Again, think your choices through and balance your vacation budget with the other issues that are important to you.
Speaking of Staying Offsite…
Hotels are, by default, not eco-friendly. But you can make choices in your hotels that will make your stay there more eco-friendly. Opt to not have your linens laundered every single day. Avoid using single use hotel soap or other toiletries. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re in a hotel it doesn’t matter how much air conditioning you use (we’re guessing you won’t need the heat in southern California or Florida). Just be mindful of decisions you make about where you stay and what you do once you’re there.
And not to plug Disney to you, but it’s actually much more eco-friendly to stay onsite as you won’t create fuel miles driving back and forth to the park each day. Disney also has an entire list of designated eco-friendly hotels on the property that you can choose from if affordable.
Are You Taking Advantage of Recycling Bins?
On property, Disney doesn’t have a shortage of recycling bins or places to avoid tossing reusable materials into the trash. But it’s up to you to use them.
Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
Even if you’re recycling a bottle afterwards, there’s absolutely no reason you should need to. Invest in a reusable water bottle with a filter and take advantage of the many water fountains throughout the Disney properties. Why the filter? Because we’ve been tipped off that while the water from these fountains is entirely drinkable, it actually doesn’t taste all that good if you don’t use a filter on it. Don’t think of your filtered reusable water bottle as buying “stuff” though – it’s actually a great investment for reducing your water carbon footprint long term. And, as a bonus, you’ll be saving a lot of money by not buying “park priced” individual water bottles.
Also Bring a Reusable Bag
We’re sure that this trend is going away, but at present every time you buy an item at a Disney store on the property you are given an individual bag to put it in. Shut that down and bring a reusable bag to reduce the footprint.
And Speaking of Buying Stuff…
We’re not going to give a lecture here. We are not naive enough to think that taking children to a Disney property isn’t going to ultimately result in some shopping. But obviously we’re going to suggest that you plan that out and minimize your consumer footprint from the trip as well. Not surprisingly, we could probably devote an entire other article to the consumerism of Disney!
Did we miss a tip for an eco-friendly Disney trip that you want to share with us? If so, just tell us about it on one of the social media channels below.
Photo Credit: Tom Bricker via Flickr