Right now, right here in New York City, somebody is cultivating a garden. Around the corner, somebody is pocketing their car keys and hopping onto a bicycle. In some nearby kitchen, locally grown, organic produce is being kept cool in a refrigerator plugged into wind power energy. Somewhere in New York City, a street tree is being cared for by a concerned local resident, while a sanitation worker on the street adjacent is dutifully keeping the recyclable paper and plastics separate.
Although difficult for many to believe, all over the city of New York, acts of sustainable, low-impact living are being performed by a hearty bunch of citizens who recognize the inflexible connection between the quality of life in a place and the attitudes and lifestyle decisions made by those who live there.
Indeed, “green” living is possible here in New York City. One can harbor personal philosophies of sustainability and environmentally low-impact living in the Big Apple and survive. In doing so, one can create for themselves a healthier, more rewarding life.
I know this because I have lived this.
Like so many so-called New Yorkers, I’m a transplant. In fact, my arrival in New York City marked the beginning of my first true urban experience. What can possibly prepare you for that? After growing up in a small town in Massachusetts, I went off to pastoral Vermont, to study and then work, all the while developing an appreciation and concern for the fragile state of the world’s ecology. But as easy as it is to don a “green” hat up in Vermont, the beast that is New York City has the tendency to tear that noble lid off and throw it into a puddle of mud. Upon arriving in the big city, I struggled to reconcile an environmentally concerned mindset that come so effortlessly in a place like Vermont with this new urban lifestyle. Of course sustainable living is easier in a Vermont township, where local produce is plentiful and nearly every backyard is equipped with a compost bin. In the city, however, such conveniences are scarce. That’s not, however, to say that they’re nonexistent.
As I hope to make clear throughout the pages of this book, with a little time exploring and a bit of extra effort, it is more than possible to live an environmentally responsible life here in New York City. Not only is it possible, it can be a pretty darn good time too. If you’re holding this book in your hands, you’ve already taken the first steps towards such a life. Perhaps you have been working towards it for some time. In either case, it’s a noble and important choice, and one that promises rewards large and small, a choice that will let you rediscover this fine city, to get to know it through new eyes. Here you have the opportunity to envision the city anew, and to offer yourself, your decisions, and your actions to its ultimate well-being, and to an ecological welfare on a much larger, even global, scale. A greener New York is within our reach.