When Corinna Williams and her sister, Theresa, opened their eco-friendly Laundromat, Celsious, in Williamsburg last fall, they wanted to educate New Yorkers while also offering a fun hangout spot.
There’s a cafe, energy-efficient machines and complimentary three-ingredient detergent. New Yorkers, she said, have been very receptive.
“By now, New Yorkers have understood it’s important what you put into your bodies and how you treat them . . . I think the natural extension of that is laundry and home care products that you need to take a closer look at as well,” Williams said. “The environmental component of our business has always been very important . . . In the end it’s up to all of us. It needs to start somewhere, and the smallest entity is the individual.”
Celsious is one of several city businesses highlighting ways to lower environmental impacts in time for Climate Week NYC’s kickoff on Monday. And in celebration of the summit’s 10th year, organizers are encouraging New Yorkers to make both small and large changes to live more sustainably with their #10things campaign.
There are more than 150 events planned during the summit, including discussions, museum tours and documentary screenings.
“I think one of the reasons why Climate Week NYC is so important is because it brings together some of the most influential people from business and government, alongside those who make up one of the largest cities in the world,” Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, said in an emailed statement. “From cutting down on plastic, to reducing our reliance on fossil fuel powered vehicles, Climate Week NYC is proving to be a powerful force to encourage those in positions of power to do the right thing, so that we can all make the personal choices needed to tackle climate change.”
Changes can include turning off water while brushing your teeth, eating a more plant-based diet and eliminating single-use plastic.
Restaurateur Ravi DeRossi owns several vegan restaurants participating in Climate Week, including Avant Garden, and said factory farming is having a hugely negative impact on the planet.
“Our consumption of meat, the way we eat is completely changing the world and it’s awful,” he said, adding: “Everybody in the world is seeing that more vegan restaurants are popping up right and left . . . Right now, every day counts because don’t have a lot of time left. Fortunately, people are waking up.”
DeRossi said he has also removed plastic straws from his restaurants, instead opting for things such as paper or bamboo straws. He’s exploring other alternatives as well.
“People have that attitude of ‘I’m just one person using one straw a day.’ Its hard to imagine that one person can make a difference, but its true,” he said. “If everybody works together and thinks as a whole as opposed to individual we can have an impact massively.”
Jeff LaPadula, who co-owns participating vegan eateries P.S. Kichen and Terri, said choosing vegan or vegetarian food makes a direct impact on climate change.
“For us, we really want people to realize that climate change and helping the environment really begins with each person,” he said. “It all kind of begins with us, with your knife and fork . . . A little drip of water can start a flood, it’s kind of that idea.”
For travelers, things like bringing your own water bottle or choosing public transportation are easy changes, suggested Fred Dixon, the president and CEO of NYC & Company, which has promoted the Climate Week NYC campaign through bus shelters, LinkNYC, social media, and in taxis. He added it’s also more important than ever to highlight the city’s environmentally friendly attributes.
“New York itself is quite a green city already in many ways, compared to other cities,” Dixon said. “We know going forward as a destination, it’s important for us to be seen to be taking the climate change issue seriously. It’s about just igniting new conversations.”