FYI: Some of the best NYC events in April occur in honor of Earth Day. NYC might not be the greenest city, but Gotham certainly knows how to give Mother Nature a proper salute! Do your part to ensure NYC parks stay beautiful and the city's best beaches stay litter-free by volunteering for a clean-up. Or just go out and smell the flowers. (Spring has sprung, after all). But before you go out and make the planet proud, consider fortifying with an environmentally conscious meal at the Union Square block party or one of the city’s best vegetarian restaurants. Now get out there and do some tree hugging!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Earth Day in NYC
Best Earth Day events in NYC
Nature is everywhere—even in the midst of New York City’s urban sprawl. Join a Brooklyn Brainery–hosted walk through Carroll Gardens to learn to identify different trees by their bark, buds, leaves and overall shape. Once you know how to look for them, you’ll start spotting linden, maple and ash trees all over the city.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Maxim Pierre
Skip the line at Trader Joe’s and learn how to whip up an organic meal from your own, er, terrace during this “5K” walking tour. You’ll be trekking to green sites all over NYC (that’s where the 5K comes in), such as the Lowline Lab, an underground garden on the Lower East Side, and an eco-conscious hotel that plants brussel sprouts on its special green roof. Natural Gourmet Institute provides a delicious, nutrient-packed lunch to fuel your hike. Participants will recieve exact locations after registration.
The New York Botanical Gardenis giving you one more reason to spring to the Bronx: a brand-new exhibit by Dale Chihuly. The renowned artist will be making the garden's 250 acres of budding flowerbeds, stunning vistas and Victorian-style glass conservatory even more dazzling with his famed glass sculptures. As light and colors interact with the near-translucent geometric pieces, the already gorgeous environment will gain a new life. Chihuly runs starting on Earth Day through October 29, giving you ample opportunity to see the exhibit with the changing seasons as a backdrop.
Find Your Park Day of Service: Earth Day in NYC
Show a historic landmark some love and volunteer to spruce up either East River State Park, WNYC Transmitter Park, Astoria Park, Valentino Park and more with Riverkeeper Sweep. Throw on your overalls—not the cute ones—and help repair trails, repaint structures and remove debris from the beach. Bonus: You get a free lunch and T-shirt for your service.
Helping the environment doesn’t have to feel like a chore—it can be a celebration! At Earth Day Initiative’s awesome block party in Union Square, you can learn about environmental campaigns while trying eco-friendly products and listening to local bands. Do your part by bringing any used clothing and electronics for the Department of Sanitation to repurpose. And if you’re feeling peckish, snack on samples of healthy sustainable grub from loads of vendors.
NYC DOT's Car-free Streets Day
On Earth Day, cars will be barred from driving on four separate streets in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. This couples with the 30 blocks of Broadway in Manhattan that will be going car-free on the same day, giving New Yorkers a taste of what the city would be like without automobiles. The Earth Day closures mark the kickoff of the 10th annual Weekend Walks, a citywide initiative that hosts more than 120 days of car-free programming across all five boroughs from April through December.
Do you even thrift, bro? Well, you probably should on April 22 at Buffalo Exchange. What’s better than buying some cool throwbacks at popular chain? Answer: When they’re $1 apiece! In honor of Earth Day, the brand is basically giving away a large selection of clothing, accessories and jewels for a buck each. All the proceeds will be donated to The Humane Society of the United States. Various locations in the city.
Find out how to make caring for the environment fun at this family-friendly celebration. Kick things off with a scavenger hunt through the museum’s Activist New York exhibit, then design your own eco-friendly planter to take home. The museum will also have plenty of healthy snacks on hand, in case you work up an appetite with all that environmentalism.
What better place to celebrate nature’s beauty than the sprawling lawns and vibrant greenhouses at the New York Botanical Garden? Get inspired by the early spring blooms, then learn to capture their beauty in a paper cutting class taught by silhouette artist Jenny Lee Fowler. Bouquets will eventually wilt and die, but the one-of-a-kind art you create will last forever.
Sourcing local, seasonal ingredients not only celebrates the regional fruits and vegetables from your area, but also helps reduce pollution. The shorter distance your food has to travel from farm to table, the less fuel required. On Earth Day, Eataly’s La Scuola will offer a four-course meal inspired by the locally sourced produce from NYC’s Greenmarket. Incredible Italian food that just so happens to be environmentally friendly? Count us in.