Ecotourism has taken off in recent years, and savvy and conscientious travellers from around the world are actively seeking out businesses and other travel related vendors that operate under environmental principles. This consumer shift has been instrumental in changing the way many of us view sustainable and ethical travel.
While many associate the green travel movement with places like Costa Rica and Belize, the fact is it’s becoming easier to locate ecotourism solutions all over the world. Even in a city as large and seemingly not green as New York City, those tourists who desire a green travel experience will find no shortage of options that meet their environmental needs.
Many business people, from small restaurant owners to large hotel chains, have changed many of their business practices to reflect the growing global concern for environmental awareness. This is an amazing opportunity for everyone to come together to reduce the carbon footprint associated with travel.
I was thrilled when I found a wonderful price on a city break to New York City with Expedia, and I was even more thrilled when I found all of the ecotourism options available in the city. Although the famous Big Apple has always been depicted as red, after my trip to the city I think that it’s time for that image to go green.
One of the most exciting things about New York City is the food. There are so many choices of cuisine it’s almost daunting when it comes time to choose. However, as the city makes its subtle shift toward sustainable operations restaurants are following suit.
One of my favourites is Gustorganics. As the first and only certified organic restaurant in the city, Gustorganics has been serving locally sourced and sustainable ingredients since 2008. I tried the lomosaltado, which is a Peruvian take on a Chinese stir fry. The grass-fed beef was rich and delicious, and the vegetables doused in the house-made, gluten-free soy sauce were fresh and bursting with flavour. Gustorganics also boasts a certified organic bar, so you can indulge in one of their many delightful cocktails without sacrificing your environmental standards.
New York City has one of the best and most expansive public transportation networks in the world. With the right maps and a sense of adventure it is relatively easy to make one’s way around this big city without ever using a taxi or driving one’s own car.
Bicycle sharing has become more popular over the years with both tourists and locals. While those of us in Europe have been familiar with the bike-sharing concept for quite some time, it is just beginning to catch on in New York City. However, it is a fun and interesting way to see some of the city, and riding a bicycle can be faster than the subway or walking if you’re in a rush.
If you’d rather not brave the notorious New York City traffic on a bicycle, the bus and metro systems are quite easy to navigate and very convenient, not to mention environmentally sound.
One of the things that I find absolutely brilliant about New York City is the abundance of green space, and the most iconic of these is Central Park. As the largest urban park in the world it is an oasis in the middle of a bustling, hectic city.
While almost every tourist visits this beautiful park, one of the best ways to see it is with a bird watching tour. Get up close to New York’s urban wildlife with an Audubon tour of the park and learn more about the many species that call the area home.
A visit to New York would not be complete without a stop at Greenmarket, the largest farmer’s market in the United States. Located in Manhattan, this market showcases fresh produce, meats and fish that are all locally sourced and environmentally sound.
For a hotel to be recognized as green they must do more than limit the washing of towels or bedding. Hotels must seek out alternative power sources and meet very rigorous standards to be recognised as green. New York City offers many such properties.
The Intercontinental Hotel Barclay boasts a colony of bees in their rooftop garden and sources all of their power from wind generation. The Benjamin Hotel offers sustainable, local ingredients on its hotel menus and a comprehensive water conservation program.
For the eco-conscious tourist in New York City, the hotel choices are varied and extensive, with properties suiting all needs and budgets.
If you’re planning a holiday to New York City and want to explore the city’s green side, you won’t be disappointed. Try some of these suggestions to make your visit as enjoyable and environmentally sound as possible.