What is Sustainability?
We live in a modern society that consumes a LOT of natural resources each day. Think about your own day – how many products do you use that are single-use? How much power do you use to charge your electronics and get your work done? Do you conserve water when possible?
It’s estimated that we use about 40% more resources every year than we can put back (environmentalscience.org). Obviously, we can’t go on like this forever, but we also need to have a society in which technology can move forward. That’s where Sustainability comes in.
Sustainability focuses on finding the balance between society’s need to progress and the need to protect the environment. It encompasses everything from food quality and availability, to water conservation, the control of waste, and so much more.
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I am by no means a Sustainability expert, but I’ve made a commitment to make changes in my own life that will have a positive impact on not only me, but everyone else who I share this Earth with no and in the future.
I started doing some research about small changes that I could make right away and was astonished by the many things I could do. This led me to consider different areas of my life, including travel and how I could be more conscious and sustainable when visiting the Disney Parks.
Disney’s Commitment to Sustainability
Before we get into a few simple changes you can make to be more sustainable during your next visit to Disney, we have to give the Walt Disney Company some major props for their dedication to conservation and sustainability.
“Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people. It’s a matter that concerns all of us”Walter E. Disney
The Walt Disney Company takes their role as a leader in society seriously and has set the standards for corporate responsibility. Since 1995, Disney has provided nearly $86 million in grants to protect the environment and continues to donate funds through the Disney Conservation Fund. These grants make grassroots projects in communities across the world possible. In 2019, the TREE Foundation was awarded a grant to support their community-based conservation program that addresses declining populations of sea turtles along India’s coastline by engaging local community members and encouraging them to adopt sustainable fishing practices and sea turtle protection activities.
In the parks, Disney has adopted some practices that are helping to cut down on their foot print.
- In 2019 a 270-acre 50 megawatts solar facility was built and now powers two out of the four theme parks in Orlando, Florida.
- The Mark Twain Riverboat and steam trains in Disneyland Resort all run on biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil.
- Walt Disney World’s bus fleet operates 50% on renewable diesel fuel.
- Single-use plastic straws and stirrers have been removed from all Disney owned and operated locations across the globe.
- Disney has kept their water consumption flat compared to a 2013 baseline.
The Walt Disney Company also has several targets that they use to help measure their progress towards a goal of attaining net zero greenhouse gas emissions and waste, while conserving water resources. These targets include:
1. Reduce Emissions – Reduce their net emissions by 50% in 2020, as compared to 2012 baseline.
2. Waste Diversion – Divert 60% of waste from landfills and incineration by 2020
3. Water Conservation – Continue to hold global potable water use flat to their 3013 levels.
This just skims the surface of the sustainability and conservation work the Walt Disney Company is doing. If you’d like to learn more, check out their official website.
How to be More Sustainable at Disney
1. Pack a reusable straw – Disney does offer biodegradable paper straws, but skip the single-use straws completely and bring your own! Try a metal, silicone, or bamboo straw that you can keep in a pouch with a straw brush for cleaning between uses.
2. Ditch the ziplocs for reusable fabric or silicone bags – If you’re like me, your park bag is filled with tons of ziplocs that hold your snacks, emergency products, pens for character signatures, and whatever else you might need. Replace your ziplocs with reusable fabric or silicone bags. I’m a huge fan of these silicone bags because I can easily wash them out (because we all know I can’t go on vacation without one bottle of sunscreen exploding!).
3. Replace your Kleenex with Bamboo tissues – Ok, this one I was a little hesitant about. I’m usually the girl that goes for the tissues that have lotion on them because I have lots of nosebleeds. But, when COVID-19 hit and there was a run on tissues, the only kind I could find were bamboo tissues. Well, I’m officially a changed woman. They are super soft, don’t fall apart when you use them, and lots don’t come in a paper box, meaning your reducing your waste even more. Consider using one of your silicone or fabric baggies and putting a few in their each day, rather than buying a “travel size”-plastic-wrapped Kleenex.
4. Buy lip balm that is packaged in biodegradable materials – If you’re in the Florida or California sun, you’re going to need to pack some lip balm. Instead of purchasing a brand that uses plastic for both the container and packaging, consider getting one like Melixir Vegan Lip Butter, that uses biodegradable materials for their packaging. Bonus? Melixir is Vegan and organic!
5. Bring along a set of eco-friendly reusable utensils – Rather than reaching for the plastic fork, knife, and spoon, bring your own utensil set that you can clean and reuse at each meal!
6. Opt for a natural deodorant stick, not encased in plastic – Ok this one you’ll thank me for later! If you’re walking around the parks, you’ll inevitably have to reapply your deodorant. This natural deodorant stick not only is healthier for you, but also for the environment because it does not include plastic casing.
7. Pack an aluminum or stainless steel water bottle – Rather than getting a bottle of water in plastic, save some money and fill up your water bottle at a water fountain. This one is SUPER simple and you can show off your personality with what water bottle you choose to walk around with!
8. Refill hand sanitizer bottles using a large, eco-friendly hand sanitizer – I’m sure you have a ton of little bottles of hand sanitizer sitting around your house (probably still in the bag you used last time you visited the Disney Parks!). Instead of trashing them and picking up a new travel size bottle, refill your travel bottles using a large eco-friendly hand sanitizer.
9. Bring a foldable reusable shopping bag to hold your souvenirs – How many Disney Parks bags do you throw out at the end of each of your trips? Next time you’re at a store, skip the bag and use your own reusable shopping bag that you can fold up and easily hold in your bag.
10. Switch up your sunscreen to an environmentally friendly sunscreen – Rather than packing the plastic bottle full of sunscreen, opt for a environmentally friendly sunscreen that is also organic!
These are just a handful of changes you can make to be more sustainable at Walt Disney World and the other Disney parks. What I love about these 10 ways is they are SUPER simple and can easily be implemented into your next trip to the Happiest Place on Earth! Plus, these changes can continue into other trips you take and into your day to day life.
And just remember – “Just listen to the land we all love!”