Organizations in NYC Dedicated to Sustainability That You Can Help Right Now

Central Park NYC
Photo credit (Andrew Bertuleit/Getty Images)
By Lori Melton

From climate change to ocean pollution to wildlife extinction and beyond, environmental issues continue to plague our planet and its people. That’s why it’s more important than ever for people to step up and protect the Earth for future generations.

Getting involved can be as simple as recycling and repurposing items to curb the amount of waste being sent to landfills. You can also help by volunteering or donating to one of these three hard-working eco-conscious New York City-based organizations that are dedicated to improving and implementing sustainable practices in the Big Apple and around the world.


Launched in 1970, GrowNYC was originally established as the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC). The nonprofit seeks to “transform communities block by block and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.”

The organization achieves its objectives through financial support from donors and the steadfast dedication of volunteers in a variety of programs. Some of GrowNYC’s initiatives include the Greenmarket which promotes local agriculture in supporting small family farms and distributing fresh, nutritious, and organic food to families across New York’s boroughs in the Fresh Food Box program.

Plus, GrowNYC hosts Stop N’ Swaps as part of its recycling programs, grows and maintains community and school gardens, and providing environmental education to over 70,000 kids each year. Find out more about volunteering and donating funds here.

Green Schools Alliance

Gaining knowledge about environmental issues is key in helping to promote sustainability. Green Schools Alliance (GSA) was formed to help people learn more about ways to protect the planet.

The charity was founded in 2006 in response to Mayor Bloomberg’s challenge to NYC’s municipal agencies to reduce their carbon footprint by 30% by 2030. The idea for GSA sparked when astronaut Dr. Story Musgrave issued the first Green Cup Challenge. Students K-12 were challenged to cut energy usage, improve recycle and waste reduction programs, and get more students actively involved.

Since its launch, GSA has connected 13,000 sustainability champions across 9,000-plus schools, districts, and organizations from 48 U.S. states and 91 countries. Via its sustainable school programs, GSA seeks to arm teachers and students with vital education and tools to create measurable environmental change. In its first 10 years, Green Cup Challenge 724 individual school participants saved 9,841,593 kWh and avoided 14,409,412 pounds of CO2.

These positive environmental impacts spurred by K-12 students are incredible and set a wonderful example for eco-conscious citizens of all ages across the globe. Learn more about donating to GSA here.

Open Space Institute

There is arguably nothing more precious than the wondrous wide-open natural spaces in our great nation. Sadly, all sorts of looming environmental issues jeopardize the land for future generations.

Across 40 years, Open Space Institute (OSI) has worked to protect and preserve historical landscapes, recreational parks, wildlife, and vital habitats. Along with saving 2,213,283 acres of land, the nonprofit has notably provided clean drinking water for millions of people.

To achieve its goals, OSI has leveraged land acquisition and funding and supported several grassroots projects and park enhancement projects. In its conservation efforts, the organization has protected thousands of acres of land for waterfowl and water birds, via its Saving New England’s Wildlife Capital Grant Fund. Endeavors like these enable many different wildlife species to roam freely in open, safe, natural habitats.

Furthermore, protecting vast landscapes also aids in combatting the harsh effects of climate change. Via the Resilient Landscape Initiative, OSI has “mobilized land trusts to conserve 37,000 acres of climate-resilient lands across the Northeast and supported over 60 organizations in the development of climate-resilient conservation plans that cover all or part of nine states.”

Moreover, 80 percent of OSI-protected lands in New York are climate-resilient, including sites in the Hudson Highlands, Catskill Mountains and more. Discover how to support Open Space Institute’s vital sustainability efforts here.