Being green helps you save money, get healthier, stress less, and save time. Here is an easy list of 11 ways you can lighten your carbon foot (and paw!) print.
1. Carry a Reusable Water Bottle and/or Coffee Cup Not even Starbucks, with an earth-friendly program they are very proud of, can get their act together to create biodegradable cups. So imagine how wasteful your small local coffee joint is. The least you can do is bring a reusable cup to java joe’s. (Starbucks does provide free refills if you pay with a rewards card and use your own cup.) The same goes for water. There are many companies pedaling chic, stainless steel bottles to help you make the transition from plastic bottle to eco bottle. Is it really that challenging to bring one with you wherever you go? (Ladies, why not put those gigantic bags to good use, eh?)
2. Carry a Reusable Bag Envirosax and Flip and Tumble create bags that roll up into little peach-size balls so they won’t add extra weight to your handbag or be cumbersome. In addition to being rather cute travel totes, each Flip & Tumble bag, for example, spares 1,000 plastic bags. Until all the grocery stores jump on the Whole Foods ban wagon to do away with all plastic bags, these reusable bags should be with you wherever you go for those planned or spontaneous shopping trips. And at $5 each, why not get a few for your friends too?
3. Ride a Bike These days, when you can get a Citi Bike around every corner, a Trek bike in mint condition costs $150 on Craigslist, and the trains and buses allow you to bring the bike on board, there’s really no excuse not to ride. It’s the cheapest, quickest, and most exhilarating way to get around town. Plus, you look great doing it. These are the best and worst bridges for biking over in the city. One more thing, don’t be stupid, always wear a helmet.
4. Ride a Bus Why take a bus on your next getaway when a car is much more cost-effective? But wait, it isn’t. Not even close. Let us count the ways: Megabus (from free, $1, $15) Greyhound, Hampton Jitney, Adirondack Trailways, Lucky Streak, Peter Pan, and many more. And another thing, one double-decker bus takes 82 individual cars off the road. Each car emits 1,000 pounds per year in carbon-dioxide pollution. You do the math. Other bus perks? Free wi-fi, movies, no need to worry about parking, falling asleep at the wheel, or getting into an accident and raising your insurance.
5. Ride a Train We forgot to mention one other perk of taking a bus, and it applies to train travel too. You can actually enjoy the scenery. No other city has this many trains at their fingertips: Amtrak, Acela, Metro North, PATH, New Jersey Transit, and the Long Island Railroad.
6. Shop at the Farmers Market Tom Colicchio couldn’t have said it better, “Wage war with the supermarket.” With 21 greenmarkets open year round, NYC makes it easily accessible to support the farms and a local food movement. The biggest plus is the taste, and if you follow Deepak Chopra’s “Reverse Aging Through Diet” you should be avoiding prepackaged and can foods in favor of what is fresh.
7. Green Appetit New York City is ripe with eco-conscious restaurants. If you like how your farmers market meals taste, imagine what kind of fresh, delicious flavors restaurants like iCi, Franny’s, Bare Burger, Sage General Store, Rose Water and Palo Santo can churn out. (Just to name a few.) Consider a locavore feast on a farm with Outstanding in the Field or read The Top 12 Green Restaurants in Brooklyn and Queens to help you get started.
8. Sleep at Green Hotels Every major city now offers a good green night’s sleep. And if the five-star hotels have been turned on to the trend, you realize it might not be something to scoff at. To get you traveling in the right direction, visit the Green Hotels Directory, consider booking a green hotel with Tripadvisor and consult an article on 10 green hotels around the world that plant trees for guests.
9. Compost You don’t need a big backyard to compost. Go to the Queens Botanical Gardens to learn how to compost inside your apartment and in city yards. You’ll feel good about diverting waste and giving back to the earth. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718.886.3800 ext 500 to register for the $5 workshop.
10. Reduce Your Pawprint Poop. It isn’t a pretty thing to pass on the city streets. It’s even less of a good thing when placed inside plastic bags that take a thousand years to decompose instead of ones that are biodegradable, nay flushable. Dog owners, you have lots of options, like Petco’s BioBag, PoopBags.com, and Flush Doggy. Get your shit together.
11. If You Must Drive Rent a Hybrid or Electric Car.
Photo: Félix Bernet
The co-founder and editor-at-large at offMetro, Lauren is a sustainable travel specialist and freelance journalist with frequent bylines in National Geographic, Bicycling Magazine and Shape. Follow Lauren’s adventures at @laurenmati.