The ultimate green guide to New York

New York is brimming with exciting eco-forward hotels, restaurants and experiences. Embrace sustainability in the city that never sleeps.

I’m waking up on World Earth Day in one of New York’s City’s most sustainable hotels, ready to embrace the art of slow travel and immerse myself in the destination like a local. Famously known as a concrete jungle, the city that never sleeps is embracing its eco-conscious side, encouraging visitors to be kind travellers and tread lightly. Here’s how to travel more sustainably in New York City without compromising on style and luxury.

Sustainable accommodation in NYC

Choosing accommodation with sustainable street cred was a no-brainer, so I booked my stay at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. This sustainable sanctuary redefines modern luxury. The eco-friendly hotel features reclaimed materials, including wood from the old Domino Sugar Factory and repurposed shipping pallets to craft its unique interiors and exteriors. Local artists and artisans have also contributed to its design, incorporating elements that reflect Brooklyn’s industrial history and natural beauty. The hotel’s foyer boasts a massive plant wall, welcoming guests and the local community to step inside and enjoy the light filled space, seamlessly blending the built and natural environment.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Nature as Art staircase and biophilic lobby wall © 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

The all-natural theme extends to the guest rooms, where eco-warriors will love the sustainable touches, like water glasses from recycled wine bottles, in-room drinking fountains and cardboard coat hangers made from recycled maps. The highlight must be the stunning views of Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline enjoyed from the comfort of my lounge, sipping organic wine as I plot my itinerary for the day ahead.

King Guestroom 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
King Guestroom © 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Rising to the morning glow of Brooklyn Bridge, I head downstairs for breakfast at Osprey by Dan Churchill, a plant-forward restaurant on the ground floor. Aussies might remember Dan Churchill from Season 5 of MasterChef, but after more than eight years in New York, Churchill’s carving out a name for himself as a performance chef and cookbook author with an ethos on healthy eating, wellness and sustainability. Despite his celebrity chef status, he amiably sits down with me to chat all things food and sustainability. Churchill believes Australia is more advanced than the US when it comes to sustainability practices and he’s proud of what he’s achieved here at Osprey. “It forms every part of our decision making,” he says, emphasising conscious purchasing choices, seasonal menus and supporting the Billion Oyster Project, which recycles oyster shells to become the foundation of future oyster reefs in New York Harbour.

 Osprey restaurant 1 Hotel brooklyn bridge
Osprey © 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Sustainable shopping in NYC

Sated from breakfast, I make my way to the curiously named 10ft Single by Stella Dallas in Williamsburg and meet a 5 ft dynamo named Amalya Meira, a sustainable fashion designer from Like a Local Tours. Today’s private sustainable fashion tour feels more like shopping with a friend than a guided tour. Amalya oozes cool and walks with a confident swagger I can’t possibly emulate, but I am just happy to be in her orbit for the morning. Amalya takes me to her favourite vintage stores and explains her ethos on sustainable fashion which is just to be more intentional when shopping.

We drift from antique shop to vintage store, chatting about food, fashion and music. I mention I’m visiting NYC to watch my nephew’s band Surf Trash perform and a shopper interrupts saying “Did you say Surf Trash? I love Surf Trash!” so I invite her to the show and Amalya offers to style my outfit for the gig. At Line & Label we find a denim jacket made sustainably from off cuts and a gold bag that reminds me of something Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City might have owned. Later, fellow vintage shopper, Mya runs into me at the gig and admires my vintage finds, which has me feeling chuffed.

Sustainable shopping in NYC
Discover sustainable fashion in NYC © Like a Local

Paddock to plate dining in NYC

Next, I take the subway uptown to Greenwich Village for a bite at Friend of a Farmer. With a rustic façade, country décor and fireplace, it feels like you’ve left Manhattan behind for the countryside. The family business has been running for almost 40 years, with a reputation for seasonally fresh and local ingredients and pioneering the farm-to-table movement, popular now amongst restaurants such as Malibu Farm, Market Table and ABC Kitchen. I can’t go past ordering the Chicken Pot Pie, which is served in a skillet, keeping the filling piping hot until the last morsel and topped with a buttery, flaky lattice pastry. Owner Taylor Morabito explains “the chicken pot pie has been a staple on the menu since we opened our doors, showcasing our commitment to supporting local farms, through the quality ingredients used”. Overall, the interiors, food and hospitality feel like a warm hug.

Chicken Pot Pie with fork
Indulge in a hearty Chicken Pot Pie © Friend of a Farmer

Green spaces in NYC

Spring in NYC is a spectacular time to visit, with tulips and daffodils in full bloom, providing pops of colour across many of the city’s green spaces. Central Park is NYC’s most famous park, an urban oasis, loved by New Yorkers and visitors alike. The 843-acre park is a great spot to grab a bagel or pack a picnic lunch. If you find the sheer scale of the park daunting, try a walking tour with Official Central Park Tours.

Another popular spot is the High Line, the world’s most famous rail trail. The disused rail line was repurposed to create an incredible public space, elevated above the city streets offering a calming space if you can manage to avoid the crowds. You can also take a detour from the High Line to the Chelsea Market, a food and retail marketplace with a global perspective.

NYC the highline
The Highline © Brittany Petronella, NYC Tourism + Conventions

Broadway goes green

No visit to NYC is complete without a visit to Broadway. Wicked The Musical is the greenest show on Broadway, and not just for the wicked witch. The sustainable initiatives executed by the production include recycling set materials and using energy efficient lighting. Hold your applause at the end of the show, as the cast ask for charitable support for the ‘Do Good’ initiative, allowing you to be entertained and do good at the same time.

There are people doing good all across NYC, like Alex from Anybag, who turns plastic bag waste into designer tote bags. I was introduced to this innovative brand by 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge who encouraged guests to recycle their soft plastics to be transformed into these hand-woven bags. From sustainable fashion, eco-friendly accommodation to sustainable dining and green spaces, New York City offers countless ways to make mindful choices. Together, we can all contribute to a greener, more sustainable future. So, on your next visit to the Big Apple, remember to tread lightly and enjoy the city’s green side.

WICKED The Musical on Broadway
WICKED The Musical © Joan Marcus

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