With Earth Day coming up, on April 22, 2017, it’s time we get in tune with our inner green-thumb and give back to our planet, starting with our city. Whether it’s recycling, composting, gardening or eliminating plastic from your household, now is the time to becoming more eco-conscious of your lifestyle.
Besides being #thegreatestcityever, New York City is America’s largest and most diverse city. With the amount of infrastructure in addition to 8.5 million people roaming the streets, you would assume we’re far from being “green.”
Guess again! New York City is actually considered a model of environmental responsibility. Unlike the concrete jungle that we’ve labeled ourselves, nearly 14%, or 27,000 acres, of New York City is devoted to parks. Collectively, Central Park, Riverside Park and Prospect Park are visited 20,000,000 times a year.
In regards to our transportation habits, over 80% of Manhattanites travel to work by public transit, by bicycle, or on foot. That’s ten times the rate for Americans in general! As for the rest of NYC, 7 million people are transported over 722 miles of subway track each workday; those who endure the hectic routines of rush hour can vouch for this.
You’re probably wondering, “Okay well, how can I start?” Here’s 4 ways you can be a sustainable New Yorker:
From farmer’s markets to shopping for clothes, purchase your goods locally to build your community while strengthening the local economy. Overall, you will be reducing environmental impacts by contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.
Learn Useful Skillsets
Various local non-profit organizations such as, GrowNYC and TreesNY, offer community beautification through educational programs for adults and students. Seasonal activities range from tree and bulb plantings, mulching and street tree pruning.
Find Your Park Day of Service happens to fall on Earth Day. This is your shining moment to help beautify your neighborhood through infrastructure repairs, repainting or removing trash. New York City Department of Parks & Recreation’s website can help you find your local park. It is updated daily with a list of activities and volunteer opportunities available throughout the entire calendar year. From beach cleanups, community stewardship, Christmas tree disposal and “mulchfest” and other hands-on workshops, the Parks Department offers a wide range of activities for all ages.
Take Public Transportation
Despite our love/hate relationship with the MTA, taking public transportation, especially in a congested city like New York, reduces our C02 emissions and dependence on vehicles. Just 10% reduction improves our air quality and has prevented premature deaths and emergency visits. The MTA charges a flat rate of $2.75 for a single ride to get anywhere in the 5 boroughs compared to other municipal transportation systems whose rate flunctuates depending on the distance. (Graph provided by TimeOut Magazine)
Other methods of reducing your ecological footprint are: switching to electric or low-efficiency vehicles, lowering air travels and C02 emissions, or eating less meat, just like our girl, Vashtie.
Remember, we are each responsible for doing our part and contributing to our community. You don’t have to wait every year for Earth Day to come around to do some good !