Why Brooklyn Is the Sustainability Hub of NYC

By the team at Casely

Cities aren’t always synonymous with the image of sustainability, and the busy, bustling streets of New York City are no exception. Whether it’s garbage on the sidewalks or more pollution, there’s a call for cities to take sustainability more seriously. With approximately 8 million people living in New York City, it’s easy to understand why the Big Apple is a part of this call for change. After all, 8 million people can make a hugely positive impact on the environment and the community.

However, Brooklyn is a NYC borough already standing out as a pioneering community seeking sustainable change. Whether you’re curious about moving to Brooklyn, need a vacation, or want to find the sustainable hub of New York City, Brooklyn has so much to offer!

Brooklyn-Based Companies That Care

Often, individuals do a lot for sustainability efforts (using metal straws, upcycling clothes, avoiding single-use plastic, etc.), but larger companies aren’t making the same effort. When small or large companies don’t change their methods to suit the environment’s needs, they miss a significant opportunity for change – and that’s where Brooklyn stands out.

Casely

Many Brooklyn-based companies care deeply about the environment and aren’t just making pledges; they have environmentally friendly processes to ensure they limit negative environmental impacts. Take Casely, a stylish phone and accessory case company with charitable partnerships and sustainability at the center of their creations.

Since Fall 2021, Casely products have only used biodegradable & compostable packaging, and Casely manufactures all of their cases from 50% recycled TPU materials. As well as avoiding toxic chemicals, Casely has donated $101,005.21 to environmental causes and organizations through their charitable #EveryCaseCounts initiative. It’s also been 100% carbon neutral since April 2022.

Brooklyn Grange Farm

Beyond Casely, companies such as Brooklyn Grange Farm are all about planting sustainability. This company is a rooftop farming and green roofing business, designing, building, and maintaining green spaces in Brooklyn. Why? To promote sustainable green living and getting local produce to local people.

Brooklyn Grange Farm has reaped the rewards it has sown for its local community. Their three rooftop farms in Brooklyn and Queens produce 100,000 lbs of organically-grown vegetables yearly. While farmers’ markets sell some of this produce utilizing a CSA program, Brooklyn Grange Farm – like Casely – partners with local organizations and sends 30% (or more) of their harvest to community members on the poverty line or low funds.

When companies like Casely and Brooklyn Grange Farm make sustainability efforts, big or small, many people are positively affected, and the environment feels the effects.

La Nature Shop

There wasn’t much good to come out of the pandemic, but a newfound awareness of how we can all do more to help each other and the planet has sprung from our time indoors. One store that embodies the spirit of sustainability is La Nature, which offers environmentally-free household goods.

The humble beginnings of this store were born in Hayley and Peter’s apartment during the Covid-19 pandemic. They aim to bring more sustainable practices to the local community, offering items like bath and body products, reusable straws and bags, and even gifts.

Zero Waste Daniel

With technology, farming, and household goods covered, you might think that Brooklyn can’t possibly amplify its sustainable outlook anymore. However, Zero Waste Daniel is here to prove you wrong. Daniel, a Brooklyn-based clothing designer and zero-waste pioneer, has taken on fast fashion, confirming that great clothes don’t have to hurt people or the environment.

If you’re always looking for ways to prevent fast fashion, be that upcycling or finding environment-friendly designs, you can follow Zero Waste Daniel on social media for tips and tricks.

While his designs are inexpensive, with individuals like Daniel who have turned sustainability into a business and daily practice, he inspires Brooklynites and beyond to examine their role in fast fashion. Even better, he’s willing to offer tips to combat it.

Exciting Brooklyn Initiatives

Sustainable Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a vibrant, artistic, and inventive borough with exciting initiatives. While some companies are centered on going green, others are coming together to tackle sustainability efforts in new and exciting ways.

For example, Sustainable Brooklyn looks at promoting sustainability in Brooklyn. But, they look at sustainability through an African diaspora lens. Leah Thomas argued that something could not be sustainable if it doesn’t consider intersectionality; intersectionality is crucial to identifying injustices to marginalized communities and the earth and analyzing how these two are often interconnected.

Sustainable Brooklyn aims to hold people and organizations accountable by leading education events and community programs, consulting with brands and designers on their environmental and social efforts, and – crucially – where there’s room for improvement.

Grow NYC

GrowNYC is another admirable program that helps over 3 million New Yorkers through various initiatives, including ‘Food Access and Agriculture,’ ‘Zero Waste,’ ‘Green Space,’ and ‘Education.’ Born out of the first Earth Day in 1970, GrowNYC has aimed to make the boroughs of New York City a place where people can handle their waste responsibly.

Grow NYC doesn’t just have one aim; whether educating young people or adults or providing resources for farmers, there’s so much that Brooklyn locals can get involved in. Even if it’s as simple as turning up and using one of the 200 NYC-local Food Scrap Drop-Off sites, Brooklyn has composting and zero food waste at its heart. Most of the time, people want to do the right thing, but when it comes to sustainability, they don’t know where to begin. GrowNYC ensures that the option to be sustainable is always there.

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Plan

Even Brooklyn’s parks have sustainability at their center. Brooklyn Bridge Park defines sustainability as promoting a safe, healthy, and clean park for the community. But the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s efforts for sustainability aren’t just a simple cleaning or keeping the park tidy. Their efforts include:

  • Salvaging and recycling materials
  • Conserving energy
  • Recycling stormwater
  • Growing their lawns, beds, and trees organically
  • Creating green roofs
  • Recreating habitats
  • Restoring oysters in partnership with the Billion Oyster Project

All of these sustainable initiatives have a keen interest in making Brooklyn synonymous with sustainability.

North Brooklyn Neighbours

Sometimes sustainable efforts are more robust when forces are joined together, and that’s the case for North Brooklyn Neighbors, a grassroots and nonprofit organization made up of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning (GWAPP) and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG).

Since its beginnings in 1994, the North Brooklyn Neighbors group has been making a difference in their local community of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. They have demanded changes to see a greener Brooklyn, like advocating for more access to open spaces, fighting pollution and toxins, and reclaiming the iconic waterfront.

North Brooklyn Neighbors wants to create a healthy, safe place to live and work. More than that, this organization wants to see Brooklyn thrive, which means advancing issues of public space and the environment through the power of the community. They believe in the power that a community holds, and their vision is about creating a community unafraid to demand change for climate and environmental justice.

Brooklyn locals can get involved and make fundamental changes from meetings to workshops. So, you don’t have to own a sustainable company to make waves; just being a part of the Brooklyn community places you at the forefront of sustainable action.

Brooklyn College

Brooklyn is such an environmental hub of NYC that even Brooklyn College has initiatives pushing for greener solutions in students’ daily lives. It promotes fun challenges like Plastic Free July, a global campaign encouraging everyone to go plastic-free for one month to keep plastic at bay and raise awareness.

The college also promotes cycling on campus to eliminate CO2 emissions where possible, educates students on energy-saving awareness, and offers on-campus recycling.

The college offers students loads of activities to get involved in, as well as valuable hints and tips for continuing their sustainability efforts at home. In doing this, students are more aware of their CO2 footprint, and Brooklyn continues to promote sustainability across generations.

Food and Drink

While you may appreciate all the efforts of companies and organizations from Brooklyn, you might wonder how you can be a part of the Brooklyn sustainability drive in your day-to-day. Luckily, plenty of places to eat and drink also have the environment at the center of their activities.

Rhodora Wine Bar

Interested in a glass of wine after work? Then, discover the Rhodora wine bar. One of a kind, this zero-waste wine bar is making efforts to put sustainability and people first:

  • They don’t use single-use plastics
  • Products for food, beverage, and operations must be recycled, up-cycled, or composted
  • Sustainability and respect for people guide staffing decisions and the business model

Local Roots

Needing a light bite and a coffee running to or from work? Cafes making a difference include Local Roots, where you can enjoy Chinese comfort food. The ingredients from these dishes are from at least 90% local, sustainable farms and vendors.

But Local Roots is more than just a cafe with some fresh ingredients; it also has its Harvest Club, where you can get seasonal subscriptions to local produce. The Harvest Club cares deeply about animal welfare, minimal packaging, organic produce, and that produce being hyper-local.

What’s hyper-local? This is when all the food is grown and produced within a 500-mile radius of New York City, so when it’s picked at the perfect time of day, you’ll know the produce you receive is as fresh as possible.

But this subscription service isn’t your normal one; the Harvest Club actively seeks out the community, welcoming anyone who wants to get involved in progressing sustainability. Whether it’s becoming a market leader, joining the street team, or becoming a recipe developer, there’s plenty for Brooklyn locals to get involved with.

Brooklyn Brewery

Want a beer with friends after a long day at work or during the heat of summer? Then you might have heard of Brooklyn’s beloved Brooklyn Brewery. Here, they continuously support various local organizations through donations that make a difference in sustainability efforts—for example, the Grow NYC and Billion Oyster Project.

But they don’t stop at donations; Brooklyn Brewery recognizes that it’s not always easy to be sustainably minded in an urban brewery. However, in 2013, they founded their Green Team, which brings together members of every department to focus on where green changes can be made. They use LEDs to limit energy use, convert CO2 into 375 acres of tree planting, and use reusable pallet wraps.

So when you have a cold beer from the Brooklyn Brewery in their tasting room, you know it’s been sourced with the environment in mind.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop

Sometimes, “eating green” might make you feel like only plant-based restaurants are considering the environment and sustainable practices. However, the Little Cupcake Bakeshop in Brooklyn is dismantling that idea one dessert at a time.

The Little Cupcake Bakeshop cares about cake and the planet – the perfect combination! – so their business model is taking on a people and planet-orientated slant. Every bakeshop includes energy-efficient practices, extending to the appliances, equipment, and tools they use. For example, they use an 18 Seet HVAC unit, low-emissions windows, and LED lighting, to name a few features. They even build their bakeshop with salvaged materials, recycled sheetrock, RSC-certified wood, and eco grout.

But making and eating cake can be a messy business, so all the Little Cupcake bakeshop’s cleaning products are toxic-free, and their packaging is made from corn or recycled mulch. And here’s the icing on the cake: they primarily source their ingredients from local farms.

Now nearly ten years old, this bakery is making a name for itself. Yes, their cakes taste good, but what’s more, they ensure that baking is done in small batches every day with no preservations, and all espresso bars serve organic teas and non-GMO illy coffee.

Why Brooklyn Is the Sustainability Hub of NYC

Sustainable Brooklyn

Whether you’re considering visiting Brooklyn, already living in the vibrant borough, or debating moving there, if sustainability matters to you, rest assured it matters to Brooklyn. With so many companies, cafes, and initiatives, Brooklyn is a leading borough, demonstrating how small changes can make a huge difference!

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