Despite its urban credentials, New York City is actually not a bad place for being naturally savvy. Not only will you find boutiques specialising in sustainably made clothes and beauty salons using only natural products, there are also plenty of awesome green initiatives raising people’s awareness about the environment. From school gardens to reclaimed building supplies, here are five of our favourite eco-organisations happening right now!
Grow to Learn NYC
The logic behind Grow to Learn NYC is that if young urban kids can experience gardening early, then they will grow up more aware of healthy eating and will develop more positive associations with the environment. Grow to Learn is working hard to get every public school in New York City equipped with its own school garden by offering mini grants of $500 to $2,000, as well as help with sourcing materials. Their website is a knowledge hub for teachers and pupils alike, with gardening tips and agricultural how-to guides aplenty.
Build It Green! NYC
With centres in Brooklyn and Astoria, Build It Green! NYC aims to free up space in NYC’s landfill sites by reusing building materials salvaged from properties about to be knocked down. At your request, BIG! will come and ‘deconstruct’ your soon-to-be-demolished building, stripping away useful materials such as flooring, doors and bathroom fittings. These are then made available to the general public at discount prices, allowing you to furnish your home affordably with shabby chic and vintage. BIG! also host a variety of workshops on topics such as building a bench from reclaimed wood or making modern mosaics from repurposed tiles.
Alley Pond Environmental Center
The magnificent Alley Pond Park in Queens offers 635 acres of salt marsh, ponds and meadows, and is home to the child-friendly Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC). This not-for-profit organisation raises awareness about NYC’s rich wildlife through environmental workshops for kids on global warming, animal care, wildlife photography and more. They also host nature trail walks where visitors can see migrating flocks, shore birds and up to 300 other species of animal living in the Little Neck Bay area.
GreenNYChas been running its weekly farmers’ markets, known as Greenmarkets, in New York for some 40 years now. Greenmarkets can be found in 50+ locations around the city, providing the widest choice of fresh fruit and veg you are likely to find. As well as connecting nearby farmers with city dwellers, they are also a great place for local communities to meet and get together. Check out their cool cookery demonstrations and tips on green living in addition to the awesome food.
Started back in 2007, MillionTreesNYC has set itself the target of planting one million new trees in New York over the next decade. They look set to achieve that goal, with around 750,000 saplings planted so far, in parks, business grounds and private gardens. Residents can apply for a free tree every spring (provided they plant it in one of the city’s five boroughs) and can attend the regular MillionTrees planting events. If you would like a new tree on your street corner, they will also help you file for permission with the local council. A stellar eco-initiative which is making NYC a greener, happier place to be.