2017 was a tough year for anyone with concern for the health of our planet. America leaving the Paris Agreement on climate change was just the first step in a long line of policy changes that seemed to brazenly disregard our fragile environment.
Even if it seems like our government is failing us in terms of the macro picture, take matters into your own hands and go for the micro. Here are ten very simple things that you can do to go greener in 2018.
1- Bike To Work Once A Week
With Citi Bike’s over 12,000 bicycles now reaching many neighborhoods across the boroughs, there are few excuses to not attempt to bike to work at least once per week. Tote your helmet, find a viable route and make a weekly pedal part of your routine. To feel part of the larger community, consider a membership to Bike New York.
2-Grow Your Own Veggies Indoors
Just because you live in a microscopic urban space doesn’t mean you can’t hone your green thumb. Hydroponic gardening is a practical way to grow leafy greens in teeny tiny spaces. It is an efficient soil-free system that maximizes yield.
The fully automated AeroGarden sits on your counter and offers the potential to grow high quality micro-greens with very little attention or effort.
3-Drink Biodynamic Wine
Whether you like to sip red, white or sparkling, there are some luscious biodynamic wines available at a variety of price points.
Organic wines don’t use any pesticides or chemicals. Biodynamic wines take it up several notches. The entire grape growing and wine making process are strictly organic, plus the farming techniques and crop rotation aim to enhance rather than deplete the soil.
As no sulfites, clarifiers or chemicals are added, the finished liquid maybe be somewhat cloudy in appearance.
Grape Collective is a gem of a wine shop on the Upper West Side. In addition to traditionally made wines, they offer a wonderful selection of organic and biodynamic wines. It’s not simply a place to buy wine but more of a think-tank for oenophiles. It is a true collective, so the staff is compromised of wine writers who write about their liquid subject with passion for the Collective’s magazine.
If you like to drink wine and would like to increase your understanding of it, pedal your bike over ASAP for enlightened conversations and tastings.
4- Donate Money You Save On Essential Services To An Environmental Organization
Donate to the Sierra Club, founded by preservationist John Muir way back in 1892. The Nature Conservancy and the Organic Seed Alliance are also fine grassroots environmental organizations or choose one that fits with your own ethos. Take a look at oM’s Guide to Giving Back to the Environment for additional suggestions.
If money’s too tight to contribute, consider switching some of your essential services, such as your cable and cell phone provider, to ACN. You could save on your monthly bills without sacrificing service and may choose to donate part of the savings to the charity of your choice. In addition, ACN donates to a charitable cause every time a customer pays a bill.
5- Choose A Hotel That Embraces Sustainable Practices
Several hotel chains are embracing sustainable practices. As of January 1, Anantara and AVANI Hotels are completely eliminating the use of plastic straws throughout all of their properties in Asia. They will be substituting the 2.5 million plastic straws used every year with biodegradable and recyclable alternatives such as bamboo straws.
Fairmont Hotels takes corporate responsibility seriously. They pioneered the Fairmont Green Partnership decades ago, blending environmental stewardship into their business practice.
Several of their properties have green roofs and apiaries. The rooftop honey produced is served in their restaurants.
Composting may not be the easiest thing for New York apartment dwellers to do but the benefits are clear. Your food scraps will be transported to a compost site and to be transformed into a fertile soil amendment to be used for local urban farming and gardening projects. Dozens of greenmarkets offer food scrap drop-off bins, so give it a try. Check out Grow NYC for more details.
7- Eat Less Meat
You don’t need to commit to a fully vegan or vegetarian lifestyle to do your bit. Consider going meatless one day per week or perhaps only on weekends.
Eating less meat reduces greenhouse gas emissions, means less deforestation for cattle feed and is just plain healthy.
In the beautiful Belgian city Ghent, Thursday is Veggieday. Many of this university town’s restaurants serve a vegetarian menu each Thursday and residents are encouraged to enjoy the delectable possibilities that meat-free cooking presents.
8- Invest In A Reusable Water Bottle
If you haven’t started using a reusable water bottle, you may be living in an alternative reality. Now is the time. While you’re at it, purchase a few Tupperware-style containers for toting snacks or for packing your kid’s lunch.
9- Get Involved
Get cozy with like-minded individuals who recognize that collective change can have a bold impact on our planet. The Impact Travel Alliance is a community of dreamers and doers who are deeply committed to sustainable tourism’s growth.
Their annual TSG Global Summit attracts innovators from across the globe to collectively tackle a single issue facing the travel industry. The hive-mind works to develop concrete, actionable solutions to push the sustainable travel industry forward.
Make 2018 the year you get involved with this forward-thinking, volunteer-run organization.
10- Recycle Your Holiday Tree
Leave your Christmas tree or Hanukkah Bush on the curb until January 13, 2018 and the DSNY will turn it into a rich compost. Just make sure to take all ornaments and lights off the tree.
Recycle your tree at MulchFest on January 6 and 7, 2018. Your tree will be chipped into mulch, which you may take home or donate to nourish gardens citywide.
Image credits: Ryan Kuhar, Citi Bike NYC, Frann Leach, Stefano Lubiana, AVANI Hotels and Hugh Copeland.