Our Green(ish) Trip to Disneyland – Part 2

Fresh fruit for sale on Main Street in Disneyland

Last week I wrote about the travel and planning aspects of our recent trip to Disneyland, and this week I’ll share some of our efforts to live green on the road–as well as our trade-offs, mistakes and dilemmas.

Before we left the urban homestead, I turned all of the thermostats down to 62 degrees. We use programmable thermostats in our house, so after I set the temperature I pressed “hold” to lock it in until we returned. I left one small light on that is fitted with a CFL. A neighbor watched our house while we were gone and he also turned a different light on every night. I hate wasting the electricity, but like most people we have to balance our environmental concerns with security considerations when we travel.

If you’ve been trying to eliminate toxins and chemicals from your life, living in a hotel for a few days can sometimes be challenging. My advice is to do everything you can to manage your environment. In most hotels, you probably have no control over the type of detergents used in your bed linens, for instance. We brought own pillows from home, and because they’re down-filled they’re fairly easy to squash down and pack. (I’m a little fanatical about clean pillows, and I air ours out in the sunshine every few weeks. The pillowcases are soft organic cotton washed in phosphate-free detergent.) We also brought our own all-natural shampoo, conditioner, soap and a couple of washcloths for washing up.

I always like it when a hotel room has a refrigerator to keep some good food and drinks handy. (You may have noticed that I don’t like to miss a meal if I can help it.) Our room in Anaheim had a full kitchen, so shortly after we arrived we went grocery shopping.  I had planned to visit  Henrys Farmers Market–a store I’d read about on TripAdvisor with natural and local foods–in nearby Fullerton, but it was rush hour by the time we set out and I had a very hungry 8-year-old in the car. After moving less than a mile in 20 minutes, I finally abandoned that plan and we went to a nearby Albertson’s.

The store didn’t have much in the way of natural or organic foods but I was able to buy organic milk, plus yogurt, fruit, crackers, cheese, spring water juice and wine, and it was great to have some healthy-ish food options whenever we were hungry. The store had a beautiful display of peaches, and even though they were from the very non-local country of Chile my son wanted them and I like to encourage him any time he wants healthy food; I’m sure many of you understand the trade-offs we constantly have to make! Sadly, the imported peaches were a bad purchase. They were hard as rocks when we got them back to the room, and when they softened two days later the fruit was rotten around the pits; I should have known better.

I had packed coffee and stevia sweetener, so I was able to make great coffee every morning which contributed significantly to my overall happiness and ability to withstand multiple Disneyland rides and attractions. The only negative was that we didn’t have coffee filters so I resorted to cutting apart a packet of hotel coffee and reusing the filter; as a result, there were coffee grounds floating in the coffee each day. No matter; it was still worth it.

During our stay, we tried to always remember to turn off unnecessary lights, electronics, and air conditioning in our hotel room and we were careful to hang up our towels so we could reuse them. In Part 1, I shared some details about our room including the fact that the toilet was a low water usage model. However, this particular ‘loo’ had a unique quirk; when it was flushed, the high thrust propelled some of the water — not clean water, mind you, but what my son calls “potty water”–  out of the bowl and onto the floor  or on your pants if you happened to be standing nearby. After a few such incidents we finally started remembering to put the lid down before we flushed.

Upon our arrival and also on the afternoon of our second day of our stay, when we entered our hotel room the air conditioning was set on 68 degrees F. Considering that the temperature outside was only 70, we didn’t need any cooling. I bet you’ve experienced returning to a hotel room that feels like an icebox, and I wonder how much power is wasted each year with this practice. I turned the system from “auto” to “off” and it stayed off for the rest of our stay. Another afternoon when we returned to our room, it smelled heavily of disinfectant like Pine Sol. We opened the balcony door and aired out the room for a while. After viewing this report about one hotel’s practices of washing glasses, I always washed our dishes before use.

Our hotel served a  hot breakfast buffet that was  a notch above the typical chain hotel breakfast. At the beginning of the line they offered china plates and regular silverware or Styrofoam and plastic cutlery. We always chose china and regular silverware, but I noticed most people chose the disposable ware which was always placed in front of the nondisposable dishes. Given that the hotel is clearly set up to wash dishes and offer reusable dishes and cutlery, I was disappointed that so much waste is generated each day.

As far as the food in the breakfast buffet, we ate fresh bananas and oranges, granola, yogurt and whole wheat toast. I doubt any of this food was organic, but at least we were able to find semi-healthy choices. I wouldn’t be giving you an honest reporting if I didn’t also mention that one morning the buffet included a huge pan of crispy bacon and I had at least five pieces; bacon is simply one of my favorite foods in the whole world. We also enjoyed hot pancakes drenched in butter and syrup one morning.

We found a surprising number of fresh food choices in Disneyland and California Adventure, and I’ll write more about our experience inside the parks in Part 3.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

2 comments to Our Green(ish) Trip to Disneyland – Part 2

  • It’s been quite some time since I’ve been to Disney, but one of the things that always stuck in my mind was how good all the food was. Of course, that was before things like “organic” were within my sphere of notice, so it might seem more challenging to me now. I don’t even want to KNOW what the hotel does with thier dishes. I might never be able to comfortably eat out anywhere again.

    Sounds like a fun trip!!!! I’m with you on the peaches – both encouraging the kids when they want healthy food and the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a GOOD peach. You know, one of my favorite memories to do with my daughter was having an argument with her one day before dinner because she wanted yogurt (plain, nonfat, no sugars, etc.). I kept telling her no, we’re getting ready to have dinner. And then suddenly it hit me. My two year old is crying for plain, unsweetened yogurt, and I’m saying no. What am I, nuts? And I gave her the yogurt. :0)

  • Mike

    Being both eco and health conscious on a trip can be hard to do, but you pulled it off quite nice. In the end it’s all about making choices to be aware and efficient. You gave a lot of good examples – great post.

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