Having lived in NY my entire life, I’ve seen the state and city go through many changes. One of the most noticeable changes has always been the level of waste you can see when going about your travels and daily routine. Rather than focusing on the negatives, let’s focus on the positives. New Yorkers have a few unique benefits when it comes to trying to be more environmentally friendly. Many New Yorker’s don’t own cars and take public transit and don’t have lawns to water, which makes all the difference!

New Yorkers have so much opportunity to capitalize and help improve the status of the world – so let’s do it together! 

man in black jacket and blue denim jeans standing beside woman in black jacket

Let’s Have a Different Conversation 

So often, the conversation is about recycling; about how we can clean up the mess we’ve already made. We focus so heavily on cleaning up the mess, but never on preventing the mess in the first place. Recycling shifts our attention from the real problem, let’s emphasize reducing before recycling. This is a great resource on how to start that process! 

Living in New York, it can be difficult to reduce when you get caught up in the fast-paced lifestyle. There’s takeout, online shopping, fancy grocery stores with a plethora of plastic packaging, fun clothing stores that if we took the time to really look into them, are not very ethical or environmentally concerned. Let’s romanticise our lives in a different way. Let’s romanticise a New York sustainable lifestyle because nothing is cooler than living an environmentally conscious and waste-free (or close to it) lifestyle. 

So How Can You Be a Planet-Friendly New Yorker? 

The great thing about being in New York is that there are so many options for us out there. We have access to second-hand stores, swap-meets, refill stores and more to help you live the best environmentally conscious life you can. Specifically, we are looking to focus on reducing waste, but there are so many other ways you can be more environmentally friendly beyond the resources I am sharing with you. 

gold and silver trophy on brown wooden shelf

A simple google search of “NYC Thrift” will reveal dozens upon dozens of options. I personally like to stay away from the big ones like Buffalo Exchange and Goodwill and support smaller owned businesses. Cure Thrift is one of my favorites and a bonus perk of shopping there is that all proceeds go towards type 1 diabetes research and advocacy. 

Speaking of big brands, there is an awesome store called The RealReal, which is a favorite second hand designer store of mine. Many of those big name brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc. are not very ethical, but buying them secondhand helps prevent waste and saves you some money! Here is another great Planet Home piece that goes more in depth on this topic! 

Swap Madness is a really great resource for swap meetups. If you are unfamiliar with swap meets, it’s exactly what you’re assuming! These are locations where you can trade items with others to help prevent waste and help each other doing so! It’s like they say- another man’s trash is another man’s treasure! 

Another type of swap meet is a flea market. There are many awesome flea markets in the city, one of my favorites being Chelsea Flea! I went to Chelsea Flea last weekend with a friend and got two beautiful Sterling silver rings that I have not taken off since! 

As far as preventative shopping goes, Precycle is an awesome grocery store located in Brooklyn that sells in bulk where you can use reusable containers to take their items home. Due to COVID, they’re offering curbside and delivery only, which does dampen your ability to reuse the same containers, but their items are still locally sourced and way less wasteful! 

What Difference Does it Make? 

Any difference is a difference and that’s what we all need to keep in mind. “Oh I’m just one person” should not be an excuse to avoid action; it should be a call to action to make as positive of an impact as possible, being just one person but causing mountains of change. 

By preventing waste, we won’t need to focus as heavily on recycling which does wonders to help the very overwhelmed system we call life. We discussed some of the many options for preventing waste, so let’s all work together! I hope this inspires you to look into the resources around you!