Undiscovered New York: Green NYC

You can’t go more than 10 feet lately without hearing about the burgeoning green movement. Whether its organic food, carbon footprints or green travel, it’s a word on the tip of everyone’s tongue. For travelers on the hunt for all things green, New York City is not exactly the first eco-destination you might conjure. Yet remarkably, the past 15 years have seen New York City dramatically cleaning up its act.

Although there’s still a long way to go, New York is more than ever a city that’s “all about the green.” From its increasingly bike-friendly streets and plentiful public transportation to bountiful farmer’s markets and eco-friendly businesses, it’s clear that New York’s residents are working hard to make the city a more green friendly place for locals and tourists alike.

Best of all, you don’t even need to work that hard to enjoy New York’s many green-friendly advantages. All you’ll need is a love of good food, a desire to get around as easily as possible and a healthy appreciation of nature. Ready to enjoy all things green in the Big Apple? Click below for Undiscovered New York’s roundup of the best Green NYC shopping, food and activities.
Grab a bike

There’s simply no way to describe the radical transformation that’s happened to biking in New York in the last 10 years. All of a sudden, bikes are everywhere – from the ubiquitous bike ownership among the city’s young and old, the increasing number of bike lanes on NYC streets and more and more bike-friendly activities.

Coming from out of town? Don’t worry, it’s easy for New York visitors to take advantage of all the biking fun. Cultural sites like Governor’s Island allow visitors to rent a cycle for the day, even giving away free hour rides each Friday. If you’re looking for more NYC bike info, check out the rental list over at Bike New York, where you can track down NYC cycle clubs, bike rentals and figure out some great local rides.

Head to the greenmarket
New Yorkers were already pretty snobby about their food before the word “organic” started to get thrown around. With the organic and local food trends in full swing, we’ve had further opportunity to gloat: New York is one of the best spots anywhere to get fresh, local produce, meat and even seafood.

One need only spend a day at one of the city’s many greenmarkets to enjoy the bounty: a cornucopia of fresh eggplant, locally grown chiles, fresh-baked organic chocolate chip cookies, and grass-fed beef are all on offer. Though Union Square is perhaps the best-known of New York’s nearly 50 greenmarkets, they can be found everywhere from the Bronx to the far reaches of Brooklyn. Check New York’s Council on the Environment website for more greenmarket info.

Shop and eat green
In recent years, New York has seen a healthy spurt of new retail stores open that cater to green purchasers. Yet it’s easy to forget that New York has hundreds of great thrift and vintage stores, offering some of the city’s best “green” shopping since long before “eco” was trendy.

Check out New York Magazine’s shopping pages or this list for some of the city’s best thrift and vintage clothing. If new stuff is more your thing, boutiques like Gomi NYC and Kaight specialize in sustainable, eco-friendly clothing. Bookworms, don’t feel left out: if you’re in the market for printed materials, why not save a few trees and check out one of New York’s massive variety of used book stores? Strand Books is among the city’s best.

After all that shopping, you’re probably going to be hungry. Don’t feel like cooking? Head to one of New York’s many restaurants that specialize in organic/locally grown ingredients. Although you’re likely to find green items on just about any NYC menu these days, there are several restaurants that specialize in “green cooking.” One spot is Chelsea’s The Green Table, known for offering some of the city’s freshest, most sustainable food. Meanwhile, downtown diners favor spots like Spring Street Natural, which has found favor among vegans, foodies and locavores alike.