A few years ago, if you would have told me that New York would become a more sustainable city, I wouldn’t have believed it. While the Big Apple offers a ton of options for tourists, eco-friendly ones haven’t always been on the forefront of choices available. However, a lot of this is changing, and sustainable tourism in New York City is starting to become a priority. The city is going through some transformations as locals realize the importance of keeping New York clean.
Where to stay
Let’s be honest, New York is expensive. Finding a hotel that works with your budget and that is also a proponent of sustainability can be a challenge, since affordable accommodations usually cut corners. Midtown has plenty of hotels, and more are looking to be environmentally-friendly. For cheaper options, Brooklyn and Queens offers much more reasonable hotel prices if you’re willing to take on the 15-minute subway ride.
For location, you can’t get better than the Benjamin. In the heart of Midtown, it was one of the first hotels in New York City to choose to go green. Along with modern rooms and an art-deco front, the Benjamin might be a little bit out of the budget-conscious traveler’s price range, but for those who are willing to spend a little more in order to know they are doing good, it’s a great option in the middle of the action.
Address: 125 E 50th St, New York
Phone: +1 212 715 2500
- Lighting that is energy-efficient
- Eco-friendly amenities
Ink 48 has some amazing views of the skyline from Hell’s Kitchen, which is my favorite area for global cuisine and cheap bars. While the space might be a little tight (as with most hotels in New York), Ink 48 allows you to step right out of your hotel room and into the action. It also offers more of a boutique feel while providing the amenities usually found in higher-end spots. Best of all, it holds the distinguished Green Key award.
Address: 653 11th Ave, New York
Phone: +1 212 757 0088
- Low-flow toilets
- Eco-friendly bath products
- Sustainable restaurant with all unused food composted
Where to eat
If one sustainable trend has really caught on in New York, it’s farm-to-table and eco-friendly food options. New Yorkers are some of the most health-conscious people I’ve met, so it’s no surprise that you can find delicious restaurants with green in mind. Even the most popular places in the city are looking to transition to buying their produce from farmers’ markets.
ABC Kitchen takes sustainability to the extreme. Waiters and waitresses wear biodegradable sneakers to work and the entire menu has been locally sourced from rooftop farms and nearby, small-time farmers. Even your silverware is eco-friendly—it might be the only place you will get a fork made out of potatoes.
Address: 35 E 18th St., New York
Phone: + 1 212 475 5829
This Italian wonderland is located right near my favorite part of the city. Almost all of its dishes are made from its rooftop farm, and their pasta is just as good as the pictures on their Instagram make it look. It’s very popular, so you might want to make sure and call for reservations in advance. Don’t let that fool you—it’s very laid back.
Address: 18 Greenwich Ave, New York
Phone: + 1 212 647 1818
Where to shop
New Yorkers are picky about what they choose to purchase, which is partially why sustainable shops have done so well in the city. Most are located in Brooklyn, so it’s worth it to hop on the subway and check out some of the new and upcoming trends coming from another borough. Look to Williamsburg for plenty of options.
We all need those household staples that we use on a daily basis, and Green in Bklyn keeps this in mind with its inventory. With recycled stationary and socks made of bamboo, you can find a little something fun and quirky for everyone. It also stocks bio-friendly cleaning supplies, so you can keep your place clean without having to worry about the chemicals you’re using when you do it.
Address: 432 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn
Phone: +1 718 855-4383
If you think that clothing can’t be sustainable, you’re wrong. Zero Waste Daniel not only manages to make clothing good for the environment, but it also looks good too. Recently, they created a line of tees featuring iconic celebrities, and their designs have been featured on the popular Broad City. They also ship, so even if you can’t make it to Brooklyn, you don’t have to miss out on their custom jumpsuits.
Address: 369 Hooper St., Brooklyn
Sustainable actions you can take
- New York is one of the best cities to walk in, and Manhattan is incredibly easy to get around. It’s built on a grid, and most the time you can get where you need to go without taking transportation.
- If you do need to, however, the subway system is well-run and goes to pretty much any corner of the city. Try to avoid it during rush hour, since it’s the most popular way for commuters to get home. Day passes can be purchased, as well.
- Hold onto water bottles if you can. While recycling bins are becoming more common, it might be a while before you come across one. Often holding onto your plastic for five minutes more is enough to find one you can use.
- Citi Bikes are also a new addition to the transportation game. Biking in the city is becoming a good option for those who want to see the sights and avoid the subway crowds. You can buy a day pass for $12 with unlimited 30-minute rides.
- Avoid fast food even if it’s easy. While a few corporations are working to provide diners with recyclable waste products, it’s better to support local mom-and-pop stores if you can.
What are some sustainable tips you have for New York City?