Recently, a TouringPlans user asked for suggestions about where to find eco friendly or fair trade souvenirs at Walt Disney World. Although Walt Disney World does frequently issue statements about their corporate culture of environmental awareness and ethical trade practices, finding souvenirs that are clearly eco friendly or fair trade does take a bit of looking.
As I shopped, three common themes I found were:
- If you are trying to find non-mass produced, fair trade, and/or eco friendly souvenirs, you can almost always skip the larger shopping locations (The Emporium, Mouse Gear, World of Disney).
- If you want something that has a Disney character or says Walt Disney World, you will have a lot of challenges finding anything that meets these standards.
- When talking with different people about what they consider to be eco friendly or “ethical souvenirs”, there is a lot of variation to what people find acceptable.
With those in mind, and with the third point being a disclaimer that you should always buy (or choose not to buy) based on your own personal comfort levels, here’s some items that I found.
It should come as no surprise that Animal Kingdom has the most items for sale that fit into this category. Throughout many of the shops at Animal Kingdom, there were a few offerings including animals fashioned from recycled cans by a master craftsman in Africa, fuzzy beaded necklaces made through the Fair Trade Federation (with a portion of the proceeds supporting a school in Kathmandu, Nepal), and bamboo and coconut shell wind chimes made in Bali.
Although not marked specifically as fair trade or eco friendly, Animal Kingdom does offer a lot of beautiful carved wood artwork and painted ostrich eggs as well.
From time to time, Disney does sell bags made from recycled materials. Currently at Animal Kingdom you can find Eco-Mochila bags and bracelets, made by hand in Columbia from recycled plastic bags.
Probably the most unusual product I found were small notebooks made from elephant “leftovers”. According to the product’s tag:
Elephants eat lots of grass everyday and they poo almost as much. Since their digestive systems don’t really break down the grass all that well, their poo has plenty of fiber. Seeing as those grass is fiber and fiber is the base material used in making pulp for paper, well, we figured Elephant Poo would be a great alternative fiber source for making our paper products.
Well, I guess it goes for saying that Disney has something for everyone…
Lots of hidden treasures can be found wandering around World Showcase in the different countries, however the item that really stood out to me isn’t found in a country. Back in the African Outpost area between China and Germany, there is a kiosk called Bead Outpost. Here you can find myriad beads made of compressed paper. According to the signs there:
Disney guide maps and other outdated Disney paper products are collected here at Walt Disney World. Hand selected, colorful papers are then recycled by being shipped to Africa where they are hand rolled into unique beads. Each bead represents the care and craftsmanship of its artist. The extremely durable, water resistant paper beads are then returned to Walt Disney World where guests can choose their own beads and string their own works of art.
In Future World, many of the souvenirs are similar to what you would find elsewhere on property. One exception is found in the small gift shop located across from Soarin’. Here you can find some gardening-themed gifts, and my favorite, the Mickey’s Mini Garden plants for sale. This is a great option for a Disney-themed souvenir with an environmental motif.
Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios
By far, the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios offer the least selection for eco friendly and fair trade souvenirs. From time to time, both parks have offered t-shirst made from organic cotton, however finding these is hit or miss.
One of my favorite souvenirs from all the parks, including Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, are the pressed pennies that can be made at machines around property. Even better, at 51 cents per pressed penny, they aren’t hard on the budget either!
If you take the definition of eco friendly to include glass, which is infinitely recyclable, you can find beautiful glass souvenirs from Arribas Brothers.
But overall, if you are determined to find eco friendly and/or fair trade souvenirs, you can largely skip Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
When it comes to shopping, Downtown Disney has more items for sale than any other single location on property. There are some unique offerings available here as well.
I am a fan of the products at Basin, which can be found next to World of Disney, and Basin White, which is located at the Grand Floridian. With soaps and other products made that are not tested on animals and free of paragons, mineral oil, and alcohol, I can always find a little special something when I shop. A favorite in our household is the Mickey soap slices, available in a variety of scents and colors.
In Mickey’s Pantry, located in the same building as Earl of Sandwich, there are a variety of spices and teas for sale. Although none of them are expressly marked fair trade, I like buying gifts like this as they are something people can use instead of adding to household clutter. While I was window shopping, I did find a lovely eco friendly gift hidden back in a corner: candles poured in holders that are actually the cut-off ends of old wine bottles!
When it comes to souvenirs, it is up to the individual to find what fits their personal ethics and budget. However, as I frequently remind people, by far, my favorite souvenir is the one that doesn’t come from stores: the memories that you make with friends and family.
But in case you still are looking for a few more ideas, here are some products that I found in my travels.