Modes of Transportation
New York is a very walkable city, especially the area around NYU. If you can, plan trips on days where you can take the extra time to walk. By walking you are reducing your environmental impact significantly, but you are also doing yourself a favor by getting some exercise, and you are saving money that you would’ve spent on a cab, subway, bus, or other form of transportation! There are plenty of NYC maps online.
For local travel that is a little bit more “local” consider riding a bike. New York has been subject of a bike-share trial (think Zipcar for bikes) and has a number of thriving bike rental businesses. Through the NYU Green Grant Program, NYU Bike Share was founded. The goal of NYU's Bike Share system is to make free bicycles available to students, staff, administrators, and faculty. While you will definitely be doing well by the environment, be sure to remember your safety and wear a helmet, and choose roads (like Bleecker St.) that have designated bike lanes. For longer distances, try to get to the East River or Hudson River where bike paths and jogging/walking areas are free of cars.
The City provides a bicycle map of the five boroughs, which identifies a network of the best streets and park paths for cycling.
Secured bike racks are available for all students behind Tisch Hall (West Third Street between LaGuardia and Mercer Street). Interested students should register their bikes with the NYU Office of Public Safety for access to these bike racks. A limited number of locations to store your bike are located in the front of Vanderbilt Hall, Furman Hall, and D'Agostino Hall. Mercer Residents have access to a bike room.
NYU Campus Transportation
NYU operates a bus system, with two scheduled routes during the fall and spring semesters. Campus Transportation is free to any NYU student who presents a valid NYU ID Card.
The NYC subway can connect you to all of the boroughs for only $2 per ride. This form of mass transportation is not only environmentally friendly, it’s quick and cheap!
New York City Buses are also a fast and reliable mode of local transportation. Bus information including routes and schedules can be found online.
The subways and buses in New York run regularly and are affordable options for fast travel, but if you are in a bind and are catching a cab, there are a fast-growing number of hybrid cabs in the City, so try to hail the greener vehicle, and you’ll be rewarded with a quieter ride, and a smaller footprint.
Metro-North & Long Island Rail Road
If you need to get out of the 5 boroughs, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road are great options for mass transit to the further reaches of the tristate area. Bus service from the Port Authority is also a great option, and you can find a number of great hiking spots, including Bear Mountains and Palisades Parks just a bus ride away!
If you need to rent a car there are some greener options. For example, Vroom Vroom Vroom pays for carbon offsets for all of the car rentals booked through their website.
Amtrak offers train service throughout the country, and they pride themselves on being more energy efficient per passenger than airlines. According to the Department of Energy statistics, Amtrak is 18% more energy efficient than flying. However, traveling on Amtrak still has an associated energy intensity of 2,935 BTU per passenger-mile so you should still consider purchasing offsets, as you can for trips by air.
Airlines are making strides towards lessening their environmental impact. Information is available online about what airlines are doing, which can help you mak an informed decision based on current airline practices. For example, Virgin Atlantic has put all of its profits since 2006 to research and development of alternative fuels.
For information on what airlines are doing to lessen their environmental impacts see Enviro.Aero and SeatGuru: Green Aircraft and Airlinesu. This can help you make an informed decision, based on current airline practices, about what carrier to choose for your next trip.
Carbon Offset Credits
For longer trips, regardless of whether you go by train, plane or car, you should consider purchasing carbon offset credits for their travel from sites including: Atmosfair, a German nonprofit organization that donates funds to alternative energy projects; Bonneville Environmental Foundation, an American nonprofit organization that supports wind, solar and other renewable energy projects; Carbon Footprint, a British company that retires carbon offsets, plants trees and supports international energy-saving projects; Carbonfund.org, an American nonprofit organization that retires carbon offsets, plants trees, and supports renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects; The CarbonNeutral Company, a British company that plants trees and supports clean energy technology programs; Climate Care, a British company that supports sustainable energy or energy efficiency projects; The Conservation Fund, an American nonprofit organization that plants trees in the Lower Mississippi River Valley; Green Mountain Energy Company, an American company that supports renewable energy projects and funds reforestation initiatives; GreenSeat, a Dutch company that plants trees and supports renewable energy projects; Sustainable Travel International, an American nonprofit organization that invests in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; TerraPass, an American company that funds clean energy, biomass and industrial efficiency projects; and Treeflights, a British company that plants trees in Wales (List from Independent Traveler)
Lodging & Destinations
Ecotourism is not just a buzzword, it is a movement that you can take advantage of when planning your next trip. Choosing a destination based on the local treatment of wildlife and the natural environment is important. Look into how developed your destination area is, and opt for an area that has remained a little bit more wild. The business owners will generally be more environmentally conscious since they have built their business around a relationship with the natural environment.
Along the same lines, you should choose your destination and lodging with an eye toward supporting the local community. Locally owned and operated hotels and businesses are the best, but ask about programs for hiring and teaching local people at hotels and businesses that may be international chains.
A vacation does not have to be to the far reaches of the globe to be interesting or exciting. There are plenty of places nearby that deserve your time and attention, and can be excellent places to relax. The less distance travelled, the smaller your footprint, so look for places in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont. From beaches to ski trails, the Northeast has a lot to offer and you can find eco-lodges and bed and breakfasts all over that will fit your budget and reduce your impact on the environment.
Finally, if you are looking for an adventure, you should consider an alternative spring break type of trip. Service trips aren’t just for resumes, and can be great opportunities to experience a new place while making a positive impact on a community in need. Websites like www.elevatedestinations.com provide trips to exotic places with a component of community service. You could also check organizations like Habitat for Humanity for other, less expensive options that are more work and less play.
Independent Traveler provides Green Travel Resources on their Web site (lodges, cruises, biking, hiking, and adventure trips, research expeditions, etc.).