Climate Week NYC kicks off today, making it the perfect time to ask yourself what you can do to protect the environment. Yes, you.
As it turns out, it's not that hard. There are a number of relatively painless–and truly effective–green steps you can take immediately and locally. Not sure where to start? Here's a handy list:
1. Hop on a bike.
Grab a bicycle–one of the greenest forms of transportation out there–then take advantage of the brand new bike lanes on Amsterdam Avenue between 110th and 155th Streets. Don't have your own two wheels? Find a Citi Bike or rent a bike for the day at spots like Unlimited Biking on Central Park North or Talent Cycles in Hamilton Heights.
2. Ask the city to plant a tree.
Trees don't just create shade and act as homes for birds, they help clean our air. Happily, New York is dedicated to creating a greener city through trees. Head to the Parks Department's Street Tree Planting page to request a new tree on your street (you have to be a property owner to do so, meaning you might have to nudge your landlord) or request a tree on city property via the Tree Service Request system or by calling 311.
3. Go meatless whenever you can.
Eating less meat is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint (a sizable percentage of greenhouse gases comes from industrial animal production). If you're eating out, try one of Harlem's vegan-friendly restaurants like Seasoned Vegan and Uptown Veg. Of course, almost every eatery in the area also offers meatless options, from fast-casual chains like Chipotle (why not opt for a vegetarian burrito?) to the many excellent pizza and pasta spots (Sottocasa, Bar 314, the list goes on) where it's easy to hold the pepperoni or sausage.
4. Patronize businesses that think green.
The New York City Council hopes to ban plastic straws–most end up in landfills or the ocean–by next year. In the meantime, more and more local spots are switching over to paper straws (Fieldtrip, Uncle Tony's Pizza, Super Nice Bakery) or eliminating them altogether (Paint N Pour). There's no better way to thank them for thinking of the turtles than with your wallet.