You’ve arrived at The Most Magical Place On Earth… feeling overwhelmed yet? Settle in while we present you with our top ways to make your Walt Disney World hotel stay more environmentally friendly.
1. Consider Declining Housekeeping
Since we started our zero-waste lifestyle, we find ourselves keeping the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the room door all the time anyway in an effort to prevent towels from being unnecessarily washed, tiny toiletries from being tossed, and barely used garbage bags from being replaced.
Walt Disney World‘s value and moderate level resorts might offer you an option to participate in a program called Service Your Way which allows you to decline housekeeping services for the duration of your stay in exchange for $10 per night in the form of a digital Disney gift card. The gift card gets e-mailed to you right after checking in and can be used during your trip. You can find tips and hacks for using digital gift cards in our Zero-Waste Shopping Guide.
While we love the idea of saving resources and money, we often think twice about the social impact of taking part in this program. With insight from the Sierra Club, we realize that hospitality Cast Members are really negatively impacted by taking part in it. Instead, consider leaving your do not disturb sign on the door for days where you don’t need your room serviced, or leave notes for your housekeeper to remind them not to exchange towels, change garbage, etc.
2. Hang Your Towels in the Closet
The Walt Disney World Resort launders an average of 285,000 pounds each day – think about how much water that uses! If everyone re-used their bath towels more than once, we’d save thousands of gallons of water every day.
Most people know that if they hang their towels to dry before leaving the room then they won’t be exchanged for new ones… but in our experience, this is hit-or-miss depending on the mousekeeper – when we hang them above the toilet or on the hook behind the door, they sometimes get taken by mistake. Our advice would be to hang your towels in the closet or the coat rack instead. This is a clear indication that you plan to re-use them and there are usually hangers with clips available to keep them spread out so they can dry evenly. As we mentioned above, it doesn’t hurt to leave a note to remind your housekeeper that you will re-use your towel.
3. BYO Toiletries
Disney is currently undergoing an effort to replace the tiny plastic bottles of shampoo with refillable pumps in the showers, but it seems this hasn’t rolled out resort-wide yet. Even then, we’ll still see plastic-wrapped bars of soap. For now, push the tiny amenities off to one side of the counter and use the ones you brought. As long as housekeeping sees that you still have all items full, they won’t replace them when they service your room.
At the end of your stay, try to sneak them back on to the housekeeping cart as we’ve heard that Disney will replace these for the next guest, even if they look untouched. If you decide to leave them in your room after you check-out, Disney has partnered with a company called Clean the World that actually makes an effort to salvage and donate what’s left behind – so it’s not a total loss.
For ideas on what toiletries you should bring, be sure to check our Packing Tips For a Zero-Waste Trip to Walt Disney World.
4. Don’t Use the Garbage!
One of our biggest pet peeves is when hotel housekeeping changes the tiny garbage, liner and all, for a single piece of trash in the can. For this reason, we stopped using garbage altogether. Nothing in it = nothing to change. What we do is take the outer paper off of a fresh roll of toilet paper and lay it out on the sink’s counter. Let unavoidable waste such as used dental floss and cotton swabs accumulate here until you’re ready to check-out. Before leaving the room, fold up the paper with the waste in it and drop it off in a communal garbage can in the lobby. Congrats: you just saved the life of a plastic bag!
If the idea of leaving garbage out doesn’t fly with you or someone you’re staying with, just designate one garbage can in your room for use – flip the others over as a reminder not to use them.
As for compostable items like banana peels or orange skins, you can pack them in your container or wrap them up to leave on your plate at your next sit-down meal – Disney collects organic waste leftovers from table-service restaurants and uses them in a waste-to-power program through a company called Harvest Power. It may seem like a lot of effort, but it appears to be the only option here, short of bringing a shovel and starting a compost trench in the dirt near the parking lot (now that’s devotion!).
5. Skip the Plastic Liner in Your Ice Bucket
All hotels offer ice buckets in the room with protective plastic liners. If you plan to just use the ice to cool a bottle or can and not actually drink the ice, skip the liner altogether.
If you plan to put your ice into a drink, don’t risk essentially licking the inside of those buckets. Instead, line the bucket with a clean hand towel or use your tumbler or food container to fill up directly from the machine. Boom! Another plastic bag saved!
6. Save Electricity
Sure, Disney just installed half a million solar panels that now power up to a quarter of the resort, but that doesn’t mean that you should leave all the lights on when you head out for the day. Most Disney hotel room thermostats have motion sensors that automatically adjust the temperature when you’re not there, but best to switch it off when you’re not around to save even more. Nobody likes to come back to an oven after a long day in the parks, but those little rooms cool down faster than you think.
You can also help conserve electricity by making sure all the lights are off, as well as TVs and ceiling fans. Don’t forget to unplug your electronics, even if the devices are turned off, to avoid vampire leeching.
Want even more tips to keep your hotel dining options as sustainable as possible? Check out our Complete Guide to Zero-Waste Eating and Drinking at the Walt Disney World Resort