Last fall we took a family vacation to Disney World, and I was really impressed to see all of the initiatives Disney has undertaken to be more eco-friendly. As, we walked through the many parks, I took note of all of the different things that displayed the eco-mindedness that Disney has adopted. Don’t get me wrong, there continues to be waste at Disney, as you would expect to see at any theme park, but to see them taking steps now, I can only imagine what a “green” place Disney World will be ten years from now. It got me thinking—have other vacation spots done the same? Without actually visiting every family vacation place, it’s hard to know for sure.
At Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Epcot Center seems to me to be one of the places that really adopted what it means to be eco-conscious and was somewhat at the forefront of Disney’s Eco Policy. There’s a ride called “The Land.” Passengers sit in a bus of sorts and travel through vegetable gardens in Epcot, as well as see fish that are harvested right there on site. Much of the food served at “The Garden Grill” is grown right at Epcot, in this ride. Growing the food right there is wonderful, because it’s fresh and it cuts down on the carbon footprint since it doesn’t need to be shipped in.
While staying at the Disney World Resort, I noticed that the hotels had quite an eco-feel to them. When leaving the room, I was impressed to see a “Green Check” on the door, reminding guests to take certain eco-friendly steps before leaving the room. The items on the checklist remind guests to do little things they might forget to do while travelling, like turn off the lights, turn the thermostat back, close all windows and doors securely and make sure faucets are shut off. Results from a recent survey by TripAdvisor revealed that travellers are becoming more eco-aware, and in fact 88% do turn out the lights when leaving a hotel room. The April 2012 survey also indicated that more hotel guests are taking advantage of towel re-use programs and hotel recycling programs. Of course, there remains room for improvement—according to National Grid, 40% of hotel guests leave bathroom lights on all night long as a night light.
Several Disney World resorts have even been recognized as Florida Green Lodging Properties because of their commitment to the environment. Swan and Dolphin is one such hotel. This hotel, much like the one my family stayed at, offers in-room recycling, only changes sheets and towels upon guest request, and room key recycling program. In addition, only environmentally friendly cleaning products are used in the hotel.
While I am sure that other hotels and resorts will begin following Disney’s lead if they haven’t already, I think this is something, we as consumers must demand. If families are going to take their big family vacations, then it’s important to choose locations that minimize the carbon footprint left behind, so one day our grandchildren and great grandchildren can also enjoy these great vacations without paying the price for our overindulgences. I would love to hear from others about vacation spots they’ve been to that are also taking steps to be more environmentally-conscious.