The Eco Travel Guide to New York City: Bright Lights, Big Sustainable City


Think you can’t travel sustainably in New York City? Think again. The Big Apple is teeming with eco options.

Eco travel is more trendy and important than ever. Globetrotters are attuned to how their love of travel could be harming the planet and are dedicated to making better travel choices.

Luckily, it is also easier than ever to travel sustainably. From LEED-certified hotels, luxury farm-to-table restaurants, organic spas, and ethical shopping markets, traveling is getting better for us and for the planet. New York City is no exception.

We scoped out the best options across New York City to help you plan the ultimate sustainable city getaway.

Where to stay

One Brooklyn Bridge

This gem is located near the Brooklyn Bridge Park and boasts incredible views of the East River and Manhattan. The hotel is betting on a sustainable future and that ethos is delivered in every detail of the hotel. The lobby is adorned with reclaimed wood floors and each room is equipped with a sustainable hemp mattress. Additionally, the entire hotel is run on wind power and built-in compliance with LEED standards.

The Benjamin

In the heart of Midtown, you’ll find the fabulous Benjamin. It was one of the first NYC hotels to “go green.” It combines a fabulous art-decor decor with socially responsible features such as energy-efficient lighting, sustainable bathroom amenities, and a top-notch recycling program. The James Beard-approved restaurant, The National, puts guests’ well-being and nutrition at the forefront. The healthy, locally sourced dishes are curated by Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. Rest and relaxation are also a focus with a pillow menu, in-room spa treatments, and on-demand guided meditation.

Ink 48, A Klimpton Hotel

With amazing views of the skyline from Hell’s Kitchen and the best global cuisine right in the sky surrounding it, Ink 48 is a perfectly New York experience. It holds a distinguished Green Key award thanks to its attention to sustainable details such as organic bathroom products, energy efficiency lighting, low-flow toilets, and locally sourced ingredients at its on-site restaurant, PRINT. Guests can borrow bicycles to get around town, detox at the InkSpa, or enjoy a complimentary wine hour at the rooftop bar.

Crosby Street Hotel

Bringing together that luxe SoHo vibes with a dedication to green practices, the Crosby Street Hotel has been awarded the Gold LEED certification. It is committed to using renewable energy, saving resources throughout the hotel, and overall guests’ well-being. The Crosby Bar restaurant serves Modern-American dishes crafted from ingredients grown right on the hotel’s rooftop garden.

Element New York Times Square West

The Element NY is located in the hustle and bustle of Times Square and is dedicated to reducing its environmental impact. The hotel was constructed with recycled materials including carpets made with 100% recycled materials. No detail is too small, all the art is hung with mounts made from recycled tires. You won’t find plastic utensils here, they use silverware and glassware in all dining spots.

What to eat

Many NYC eateries have embraced the farm-to-table movement, showcasing the freshest seasonal produce, such as Balcon (which gives incredible views too). You’ll find no shortage of great food in the Big Apple, and these are just a few to add to your must-visit list.

Eleven Madison Park

Overlooking Madison Park is Daniel Humm’s recently revamped Eleven Madison, with an entirely plant-based menu. Humm made the shift after coming to the realization that the current food system, which is heavily reliant on animal agriculture, is not sustainable. The new menu, which clocks in at $335, is Humm’s effort to “redefine luxury as an experience that serves a higher purpose and maintains a real connection to the community.” You won’t find Beyond or Impossible burgers here; Humm’s menu is plant and fungi-forward with seasonal creations to promote locally grown food.

ABC Kitchen

Sustainability is no trend at ABC Kitchen. Waiters and waitresses wear biodegradable sneaks to work and the entire menu has been locally sourced from rooftop farms and nearby, small-time farmers. The flatware is made out of potatoes! The teas, coffees, spices, and wines are organically cultivated on fair-trade cooperatives and the dining room has salvaged, reclaimed, and recycled materials.


Started by the incredible Jean-Georges of ABC Kitchen, this is his twist on vegetarian fare. It is all plant-based, non-GMO, artisanal, and organic whenever possible. The ingredients are sourced from small family farms and it aims to inform and inspire a culture shift towards plant-based intelligence, through creativity and deliciousness.


Rosemary’s is an Italian lover’s dream. Most of the dishes are crafted exclusively from ingredients grown on their rooftop farm and their farm upstate. The homemade pasta, which chef Carlos learned from his Italian mother, is simply divine. This upscale restaurant is also very laid back with incredible Tuscan vibes.

Avant Garden

After years of running top cocktail bars, restaurateur Ravi DeRossi ventured into food with Avant Garden in 2015. Its exquisite, plant-based offerings celebrate vegetables paired with curated global natural wines. The food is a true work of art—for your eyes and your stomach. The popular spot puts compassion and inclusion at the forefront, along with the food.

Eco spas and salons

Hale Organic Salon

From the reclaimed wood floors made from nineteenth-century barn oak to its vintage furniture, everything at Hale Organic has sustainability in mind. The salon has a synthetic-chemical-free policy and offers rich, ammonia-free color, and the coolest downtown cuts.

Joanna Vargas Salon

A luxurious organic spa right on Fifth Avenue, Joanna Vargas offers face and body treatments with its own small-batch, cruelty-free and paraben-free products. The salon is not only dedicated to providing the best for its clients but it also has philanthropic relationships with several non-profits like Ubuntu Pathways, which provides impoverished South African youth with lifelong support to create a better future.

Go Green Organic Spa and Shop

Winner of the 2016 Earth Day Beauty Award, Go Green Organic Spa offers massages, peels, and microdermabrasion with Eminence organic skincare products. It partners with Trees for the Future to plant a tree every time Eminence products are sold at its shop.

Sustainable shopping

Brooklyn Flea

Support local designers and craftsmen at the beloved Brooklyn Flea. Browse the intricate stalls for everything from furniture and vintage clothing to collectibles and antiques as well as carefully curated collections of jewelry and art from local artists. The market also has some of the best of Brooklyn’s artisanal food scene with 100 local and regional vendors in a beautiful outdoor setting.

The RealReal NYC

If designer fashion and art is a treasured pastime, be sure to stop at one of The RealReal’s New York flagship stores. Find the best in coveted vintage Dior dresses, Cartier jewelry, and even high-end custom art and furniture.

Google's First Store Is As Sustainable As It Gets. Here's What Its LEED Certified Platinum Status Means.
Image Credit Google

The Google Store

Even Google has its own flagship location in New York now. The building has achieved the highest in LEED certification standards for a retail location, making it one of just 250 in the world to achieve that status. Spend some time browsing the search engine’s vision for a sustainable future, including its new eco mapping priority and its latest Google Earth update.

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