Thursday 5 January 2012

a green american fling : part 3 : new york

From Mexico I winged my way over to New York for a few days to celebrate my Mom's 60th birthday in style.

I already knew that New Yorkers have a smaller footprint than most Americans thanks to reliance on public transport and small living spaces (the apartment I rented in SoHo was the perfect example of small living), but I planned on keeping my peepers peeled to see if 'green living' was making its way into the zeitgeist of this thriving metropolis.

My brother met me at Newark Airport where we easily caught the train into the city for the bargain price of $15 per person, and within an hour of clearing customs I was lugging my bag up four flights of stairs to our adorable apartment.

I needed food immediately - the five-hour flight from Puerta Vallarta did not include any meals - but at 10pm on a Sunday my options were slightly limited, even in New York.  Luckily there was a Whole Foods around the corner from my place!  If I had been alone I'd have happily wandered the aisles for hours, examining all the natural food and grocery items the locals may not realise are so hard to come by in other parts of the world . . . instead I quickly bought an organic salad and my brother picked out a local, organic beer and we headed back to the apartment for a long-overdue catch up.

The next day was filled with sightseeing. . .

Central Park was in particularly fine form on the unseasonably warm autumn day

There's no better way to get yourself around New York than the subway
Locals enjoying the weather at outdoor seating at South Street Seaport

The city is still filled with the rampant consumerism I've observed (and participated in!) on previous visits, but popping up throughout the city were a number of eco-goodies, too:
  • Organic Modernism - a beautiful furniture store we stumbled into that uses FSC-certified timber
  • GreenDepot - environmental living and building supplies, it's like the Home Depot or Bunnings of green building, with a few more beautiful objects for your space thrown in - like these woolly pocket planters and gorgeous beeswax candles

  • Freemans - a rustic American restaurant tucked into the alley right next to our apartment, featuring wild game, sustainable seafood and produce from local New York farms; I couldn't have planned a better place for a beautiful meal out if I tried!

  • Occupy Wall Street - okay, techically not 'green' but we're on the same wavelength. I visited the original camp at Zuccotti Park the day before protestors were evicted under the cover of darkness on Tuesday 15 November.  I am so grateful I was able to be a witness to this historic movement in its original location at Liberty Square, and continue to send my support to those on the ground fighting for income and wealth equality for us all.

  • Bread - not technically a green cafe, but they are embracing the art of reuse with these beautiful mugs used for tea (organic and fair trade, too) - and they make a great brekky!

Lest you think I only enjoyed green things . . .
    Enjoying the 'local' cuisine

I only had a few days in NYC, and did no research in the lead up to my visit on the must-see eco-sites, but I was happy with how easily I stumbled upon sustainable offerings in the big city.

I'd love to hear of any others you have come across in your travels! I'm sure I'll be back, and next time I'll be better prepared with my greenie list - though I suspect there will still be a slice of pizza or two on a  non-recyclable wax-coated paper plate.

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