Filled with skyscrapers and taxis, New York City does not seem to be the most environmentally friendly city on its surface. But around the Big Apple are hotels, restaurants and attractions that take sustainability seriously. If it is important for you to support environmentally friendly companies and reduce your carbon footprint, even on vacation, read below our guide on how to experience an eco-friendly getaway in New York.
Stay in an eco-friendly hotel
First, find a hotel that respects ecological practices. Nowadays, most hotels have decided to wash only towels and sheets on demand, but research is still on-going to offer bulk toiletries instead of small plastic bottles, energy-efficient lighting, high-efficiency shower heads and low-flow toilets and green roofs with hives and products.
IHG is always environmentally friendly in its properties, but there are many more that stick to green practices. 1 Hotel Central Park presents its ecological mission in a magnificent design. If you are looking for a family hotel, think of the Gardens Suites Hotel by Affinia, which offers large apartment style apartments on the Upper East Side. For a luxurious boutique experience, we love the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo. The Kimpton Muse Hotel is an establishment that accepts pets in the Times Square area.
Pass the private car service
When you are trying to do a show on Broadway or looking for the fastest way to get to the One World Trade Center, you may be tempted to take a taxi or order this UberBlack. However, NYC is mature with more environmentally friendly transportation options. At the top of the list is walking, the preferred means of transportation for many New Yorkers and an excellent way for tourists to visit the city. If you’re tired of walking in Central Park or The Met, choose cycling with the affordable Citi Bike bike sharing system or take the easy-to-use subway. If you still want to travel by car, choose carpooling services such as Lyft Line and UberPool. Large families and groups can try Chariot or Via.
Eat in local restaurants
The New York culinary scene is incredible, ranging from cheap and tasty halal carts on the sidewalk to Michelin-starred restaurants; where reservations are mandatory. In addition to the range of kitchens and prices listed here, many restaurants are focused on sustainability. For a gourmet tasting experience, visit Blue Hill Restaurant in Greenwich Village, opened in 2000, which is locally sourced, including its own farm located an hour north of the city. ABC Kitchen, led by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is another leader in ecological restoration. Its local menu is free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones.
For less formal and less expensive meals, Bareburger has several locations and offers a menu that is more than one-third vegetarian and herbal, with ingredients from sustainable farmers. Ancolie serves vegetable-based dishes such as salads and chia puddings in reusable glass jars. For something sweet, go to Birdbath Bakery, the smaller and more environmentally friendly sister of the famous City Bakery. The design and layout are more environmentally friendly, but just as pleasant.
Visit attractions focused on sustainable development
The number of attractions in New York City is sufficient to occupy many weekend vacations, but the list of attractions with sustainable practice is much shorter. Mix sightseeing and environmental friendliness with excursions to places like the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Families in particular should visit the Edible Academy on the solar roof of the garden, a state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2018 and was built to LEED Gold certification standards. Here, gardening, educational lessons and cooking demonstrations are organized.
For something closer to the city centre, the Institute of Culinary Education offers cooking and baking courses ranging from pasta making to chocolate making. It has its own indoor hydroponic grass and a garden where visitors can pick edible herbs and flowers for their dishes.
Pack your bags with environmentally friendly products
Even before you arrive in New York, there is a way to make your trip even more environmentally friendly: take your luggage with you. One of the easiest items to dispose of in your bag is a reusable water bottle. This will prevent you from permanently buying plastic bottles from bodegas and carts. The stainless steel hydro-flake is a favourite for its ability to keep ice and coffee hot for hours and hours. It is also available in a multitude of colours and sizes. To protect yourself from the sun when crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, a pair of Costa sunglasses is perfect. Just make sure you buy a pair from their untangled collection, which is created by recycling fishing nets thrown and recovered in Chile’s commercial fishing ports.
For your toiletries, use products from companies such as Tom’s of Maine, which promote sustainable growing and harvesting practices and aim to reduce packaging waste through recyclability and biodegradability. From deodorant to toothpaste, lip balm and baby sunscreen, all the essential products are available.