“Green” travel in New York City? That seems like an odd combination, yet there’s a lot that New York does that makes it (in some ways) an environmentally friendly destination, not the least of which is its highly useful (and much-used) mass transit system.

Sustainable tourism is conscientious travel. It means being careful with the environments you explore, and respecting the communities you visit. Two overlapping components of sustainable travel are ecotourism and ethical tourism. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. TIES suggests that ecotourists follow these principles:

  • Minimize environmental impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation and for local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climates.
  • Support international human rights and labor agreements.

While much of the focus of ecotourism is about reducing impacts on the natural environment, ethical tourism concentrates on ways to preserve and enhance local economies and communities, regardless of location.

In New York City? You can embrace ethical tourism by using mass transit, staying at a hotel or B&B that makes an effort to be “green,” shopping at a locally owned store, and eating at a diner, coffee shop, or mom-and-pop eatery instead of at a fast-food chain.

New York recycles its bottles and cans (including bottled water); look for containers for recyclables when you are discarding your litter. You can even contribute to sustaining the environment by going to a baseball game. The new home of the New York Mets, Citi Field, was built with 95% recycled steel, has ultraefficient field lighting that cuts energy consumption by as much as 50%, and has an on-site irrigation system and low-flow plumbing fixtures such as waterless urinals and sensor-activated faucets that help save an estimated 4 million gallons of water a year. See www.frommers.com/planning for more tips on responsible travel.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.