Even when traveling, it is important to be a good steward to the environment. A break from work doesn’t mean you can also take a break from being socially responsible. If everyone who visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park followed these four easy guidelines, then combined with what Disney already has in place, together we could make a huge impact on the future. Seriously, these things are so easy, you may already be doing them!

Disney's Tree of Life in Discovery Island

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

This world truly is a beautiful place. It is a place full of wonder and amusement, especially in the eyes of our children. Just a few days ago, I received the chance to tour Disney’s Animal Kingdom without my kids. This isn’t something I would normally do since I love to have them experience the world with me, but because I had a chance to focus and view this part of the Disney parks un-interrupted, I was able to clear my mind and think about the future. The future? I know, being the Retro TravelingMom, I am one to normally focus on the past. However, during this trip I realized that if we don’t stand up to make a difference now in the way we are treating our world then the things that we enjoy today won’t be around long enough for our children and grandchildren to appreciate them. That would be a shame because these things are truly magical.TMOM Travel Disclosure

As I walked through Discovery Island in the Animal Kingdom Park, I was curious as to what this park was doing to help preserve and sustain their slice of history for future generations. I found that Disney is currently taking huge steps to make their parks even more eco-friendly and self sustaining every day through recycling, conservation and sustainability. However, they were quick to emphasize that they can’t do all of this alone. In an effort to support Disney’s effort, I was able to find four quick and easy things we can all do while visiting and enjoying Disney’s Discovery Island in the Animal Kingdom Park.

Recycle at Disney Parks

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

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Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

The very first thing you’ll see when entering the Animal Kingdom Park is the Tree of Life. It can’t be missed. The Tree of Life is a gigantic tree, decorated in the designs of different animals, that sits directly in the center of Discovery Island. While this tree represents the balance of nature, it also is one of Disney’s movements to help conserve and sustain the environment through recycling. You see, before there was this grand tree sitting in the middle of the park, there was an oil rig. In an effort to re-use and recycle, Disney took that used up oil rig and gave it rebirth into the Tree of Life. Plus, in the same way that Disney recycled the oil rig, patrons to the parks are encouraged to place recyclable garbage into the correct bins instead of the trash. These bins are placed right next to the garbage pails throughout the park making our choice to recycle an easy one and helping Disney make it one step closer to their goal of being a zero waste park.

Learn Through Disney’s Education Programs

Another mission of the Animal Kingdom park at Disney is to spread knowledge. Throughout Discovery Island, I was amazed to find staff members who were knowledgeable and excited to talk to me about animal and plant conservation. In fact, as I exited from the nature trail around the Tree of Life, a young man caught my eye. He was holding a giant spider and smiling. Smiling while holding a spider? My interest had been peaked. As I reached the young man, he began to tell me about the role something even as small as a spider plays in the universe. His job here was to educate Disney park goers and urge us all not to squash those scary looking spiders when we see them, but to allow them to live because everything has a purpose. A fun way to teach children about respecting insects is by watching “It’s Tough to be a Bug!”, a 3D entertainment production found in the center of the Tree of Life.

Disney Conservation

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Donate To Help Conservation

Along the Discovery Island trails, there are several small animals and birds for patrons to discover, including the cotton-top tamarin and the macaw. Many of these animals have found their way to the Disney parks because they were injured or reclaimed from the pet trade industry. Here at Disney these animals are used for community education. Each one is paired with specialized nutritionists and on staff veterinarians, many of whom are interns and students. It is Disney’s belief that “The greatest gift we can give our children is a world where nature thrives….”. It is because of this belief that Disney established the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. This fund was established to support local and global nonprofit organizations which recognize conservation issues and are doing something about them. Guess what? You can also help! One hundred perfect of every dollar donated to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund by a Disney guest is matched by The Walt Disney Company. This can make a big difference to someone planting trees in Uganda or to those working to protect the sea turtles in Florida. Donations may be made at specific Disney park and hotel locations.

Disney Shopping

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Go Shopping for the Cause

This is another way Disney parks have made it easy for their patrons to give back by doing something they already love to do: shop. The souvenir shops along Discovery Island are packed with really cool and amazing gifts. If you take a closer look you will find that many of these gifts were either made with recyclable materials or donate back with each purchase. Two of my favorite items in the stores were the purses made out of recycled plastic bags and the animal figurines made from used soda pop cans. Plus, you know those boxes that your magic bands and trading pins come in? Give them to the Disney parks’ staff members after opening and they will place the unwanted boxes in a special bin for recycling. The same may be done with those plastic shopping bags.

Every little bit makes a difference. What do you plan to do to help Disney’s sustainability efforts next time you visit the parks?

Excited about visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Check out these 10 secrets you probably didn’t know about the park. You can also check out the best places to see animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.