Urban farms, zero-waste shops and LEED gold-certified hotels make up our light-touch list of things to do in the ever-green Big Apple.Less
Sustainability comes front and center at this LEED gold-certified hotel. The plant-filled lobby features furniture made from reclaimed wood and a selection of complimentary wonky, curvy, not-quite-perfect produce to help reduce food waste. You’ll find a filtered water faucet in your room – so you won’t be tempted by single-use plastics – and a shower timer to help you save on water consumption. Guests get shuttled around in an all-electric Audi e-tron, and staff get paid volunteer days.
There’s farm-to-table dining, and then there’s Olmsted. Chef-owner Greg Baxtrom grows many of his vegetables and herbs in the tiny urban backyard farm behind his restaurant in Prospect Heights; guests can linger there with a cocktail as they wait for a table – and it is so worth the wait. The vegetable-heavy menu stars original dishes such as carrot crepes and heirloom tomato schnitzel. Start with the market veg tempura, which changes day by day depending on what’s fresh and seasonal.
Box-fresh Pendry Manhattan West sits within an eco-friendly complex that uses solar panels, rainwater reclamation and a rooftop apiary to boost its green credentials. The hotel’s parent company Montage International is committed to social and environmental sustainability, with health and wellbeing-focused design (resulting in light, airy spaces featuring natural materials) and plenty of rooms for guests with accessibility needs.
New York’s shopping scene is unbeatable. So, if you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, but want to avoid fast fashion, choose the sustainable option and shop secondhand. There are countless thrift stores across the city, but Metropolis Vintage – while not the cheapest – is one of the biggest and best, with a well-curated collection of rock tees, ’80s bomber jackets and palm-printed Hawaiian shirts.
This sustainable homeware shop in Brooklyn is the brainchild of Lauren Singer, the zero-waste influencer who went viral in 2014 for producing only a jar’s worth of trash over an entire year. Come for the packaging-free shampoo bars, compostable tote bags and eco-friendly beauty products, and leave with a new-found determination to downsize your impact.
Spread across 250 acres, the New York Botanical Garden – the largest of any city in the USA – is a national landmark. Both its research and its community and education programs aim to empower future generations to care for our planet. Wander along the wetland trail to spot ducks and turtles in the reeds; stop and smell the roses at the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden (one of the world’s most sustainable rose gardens); or take a self-guided audio tour and meditative walk among ancient trees.
The natural, low-intervention wines at Rhodora are sourced from small-scale producers and served alongside sustainable, Mediterranean-inspired small plates of tinned fish and hard cheeses. The bar is carbon negative and zero waste, meaning they use no single-use plastics and send absolutely nothing to landfill. Not a wine buff? Friendly staff can help you choose a tipple to suit your tastes. Consider trying a trendy orange wine – in vogue for their low-impact production techniques.