Woah. I've lived in New York for a full year? Am I officially a New Yorker, now? Before moving here, I read essays by people who were moving to or away from the city, but I wasn’t prepared for the in-between part.
Living in New York City is an extraordinary thing. The city is most certainly alive, with a dynamic energy that can be felt the moment you set foot in Manhattan. It’s the energy of millions of people moving about their lives on foot, in speeding yellow taxis and in loud, old trains. You can feel the life pulsating in the air here, whether you want to or not. Someone accurately described the city as either feeding you, or eating you. I’ve had my fair share of both this past year.
The months between April 2015 and April 2016 have been a whirlwind, no, a roller-coaster, of experiences, people, mistakes, discoveries, excitement, frustration, and dreams. I've done a lot of different things, some of which have been so good, and some not so much. But every experience has taught me something. Had I never moved to New York, I probably wouldn’t have done much at all, and just that knowledge, that I’ve pushed myself to experience and do more than ever before, has made this move worth it.
In fact, I think that was the whole point of moving here, to push myself to grow and live life in a different way than I knew before. Heck, I’m young and vivacious and now is the time to try new things to test my resilience! With each new experience, I’m learning, growing, becoming a different version of myself. With each tiny step forward, I’m evolving. This type of motion is probably attainable just by taking yourself out of your comfort zone at some point in life, but I have to say, that New York is the ideal place for motion. This city is a hotbed of experimentation, a bubbling vat of ideas, of trial and error. Everyone in New York has a side hustle, and nobody here can resist change. Existing within this living, breathing entity is accelerating my growing up and it’s helping me to try, fail, repeat faster than I could ever have imagined.
In just one year, many life lessons have been learned. Number one of those is that there will always be more life lessons! So cheers to one year in New York City, and here’s looking at you, year two.
My Top 10 Sustainable People & Places in NYC
1. Place to Play: Union Square Farmer's Market - You'll find me here most Saturday's of the year, dropping off compost, meandering through the crowd and discovering all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables from the greater New York area. I love taste-testing all kinds of treats, people watching, and imagining the gourmet chefs of New York using the same ingredients as me!
2. Event Venue: Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator - If you're looking to get educated on sustainability in the fashion industry, this is your go-to place. I've attended numerous events here (and I work here now, just a disclaimer...) and every one has been enlightening, inspiring, and an excellent place for networking. My favorites have been panels moderated by BF+DA founder, Deb Johnson.
3. People to Meet: The Ethical Writers Coalition - This group of exceptional writers has been my solace and motivation behind writing and getting immersed in the sustainable scene for this past year. The ladies in this group are encouraging, kind, and knowledgable about all subjects ethical. I've loved being a part of the EWC, working together to host fun events, and I can't wait to do even more!
4. Vintage Shopping: 10ft Single by Stella Dallas - Head here for your most coveted vintage finds, but be sure to dedicate at least an hour and a half to the hunt! The store is organized by item type, making it easier to decide where to look. I've found perfectly fitting vintage Levi's, a glamorous winter coat, tailored silk shirts, and hole-y punk tees here, all in good condition for very fair prices.
5. Sustainable/Ethical Boutique: Kaight Shop - Opened 10 years ago, Kaight was the first shop dedicated to sustainable and ethical fashion. This cute, understated boutique in Boerum Hill caters to neighborhood moms, young city girls and tourists, alike. Kaight has something for everyone - and it's all sourced based on the principles of local production, organic textiles, reclaimed materials, fair trade and zero waste.
6. Menswear Made in NYC: By Robert James - This Lower East Side-based menswear shop manufactures all of it's goods in NYC's historic garment district with meticulous designs by Robert James. Robert is passionate about local production, good quality clothing, and a unique but chic style. Get clothing for any occasion here and enjoy free in-house tailoring, alterations and mending for life. I suggest visiting his LES or Williamsburg store rather than shopping online as the in-person experience is much more special!
7. Vegan Tea Time: Little Choc Apothecary - This all-vegan creperie is downright adorable, with Toby's Estate coffee, special tea mixes, and delicious home-baked treats. I will always be happy to spend an afternoon cozied up in this little corner of Williamsburg, with it's bright blue walls and friendly employees! All of their ingredients are as locally-sourced and organic as possible, and the Apothecary provides detailed information on special ingredients to boot.
8. BK-Made Bean to Bar Chocolate: Fine & Raw - I mean, just listen to this tagline: "We want the planet to be strong so it can grow more chocolate." Yes. I love it! Fine & Raw, aside from being delicious, manufactures their chocolates in Bushwick over a 4-day process during which their beans are heated at low temperatures. All ingredients (of which there are about 4) are organic and fair trade when possible, and the packaging is made of recycled materials, printed with non-toxic, vegetable-based inks.
9. Pizza & Beer: Scarr's - This brand new neighborhood spot is destined for good business. With the facade of a $1 slice pizza shop, one would never expect to find stone-ground wheat (ground daily in their cellar) and homemade vegan cheese toppings at Scarr's. Yet, Scarr's pizza is expertly made fresh every day. Even better, it can be enjoyed in their delightfully retro bar area with cheap, American beers or a glass of wine!
10. The Best Ice Cream Ever: Van Leeuwen's - Ugh, it's just so good! Van Leeuwen's artisan ice cream, whether vegan or non, is all made from scratch in Greenpoint, BK. The vegan ice cream has the shortest ingredient list you can find; made from cashew cream, organic coconut milk, organic cold pressed coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter, and organic carob bean. Just, try it!