Staying Zero Waste in New York City

Zero waste city guide to New York City | Litterless

This weekend, I visited New York City to hang out with dear friends and explore. Though I visited often in college, I hadn't been since moving to Chicago. I had such a wonderful time, and I'd love to share some tips for staying zero waste in the fastest-paced city in the country.

1. Skip the take-out and fast food. NYC loves take-out and to-go restaurants like no other, but each delivered or on-the-go meal creates a lot of packaging waste: styrofoam, paper napkins, flimsy plastic forks, melty plastic soup containers. Opt for sit-down meals instead - they're much more fun anyways, aren't they?

2. Eat local food. You know all the reasons: better tasting produce, supporting local farmers, reducing the travel footprint of your meal. Add to these a few zero waste ones: farmers' markets have no produce stickers or receipts, reducing the overall landfill impact of your meal. Luckily, NYC has a huge network of markets that are open year-round. Find one near you here, to go grocery shopping or even to just pick up a few snacks for your stay in the city.

3. Stock up on bulk goods. Take advantage of the great shopping - and I don't mean Fifth Avenue. Though there are places to purchase bulk, package-free foods around the country, as you'd expect New York has some of the stores with the best bulk sections you'll find. Here's where you can finally all of the stuff package-free that you couldn't in your hometown: Integral Yoga Natural Foods, the Fourth Street Co-op, and Natural Frontier Market. Better yet, all three happily let you fill your own containers brought from home.

4. Compost. Even if I don't cook during a trip, my snacks of carrots, apples, bananas, and more all generate food scraps that I'll hold on to if I can't find a composting site. Luckily, NYC makes it so easy to compost your food waste. Find a drop-off site near you, here.

5. Be prepared. With a water bottle, cloth napkin, and eating utensil tucked in your bag, you can navigate the city waste-free, no matter where your adventures take you.

Any other ideas to share? What are your favorite things to do in the city?