New York City Sustainability: More People, More Resources, More Pollution


As populations continue to expand all over the world, the need for dense sustainable cities is growing. With resources such as oil and water beginning to deplete, we as a society must re-think a lot of the ways we conduct things such as transportation, garbage pick-up, and land use. By living in New York City, I am able to witness on a daily basis the changes and improvements being made to a city that is already significantly more environmentally friendly than many other big cities in the United States. Because the 8,000,000 people who inhabit the area are not sprawled out, which forces transportation to be mainly dependent on car travel, New York is the densest city in U.S. This allows most of the travel to be public. As a teenager living on the Upper West Side I am able to go anywhere in the city by utilizing the MTA’s subway and bus system. Other metro areas such as Los Angeles can hardly say the same, because its populous are practically forced to own a car. Cars and the burning of fossil fuels being by far the most prevalent contributor of carbon emission city planning needs to continue, especially in terms of transportation, to move closer to more public ways of getting around.

            With all the good work that New York City continues to do there are still many areas in which we will need to improve, especially in the next 10 to 20 years. The New York metro area is expected to grow by roughly 4 million residents. This growth brings the need for improved policies that will ensure that the already congested area stays sustainable. Some of the issues that are currently being worked on include harmful soot pollution that can be remedied by cutting diesel and cleaning up dirty heating oil in business and home. Other improvements are being made by implementing a new truck replacement program around NY/NJ port marine terminals, and advocating for expanded rail service. But these policies are only half the battle. On a personal level, we as Americans must make a consistent effort to cut our effect on the Earth. We must move away from habits and traditions that continue to contribute to the pollution and disregard for our planet. The only way we are going to be able to overcome the current obstacles is if there is an equal effort in politics and our daily lives to help sustain the planet. It is essential that humans make it their mission to habitually improve local communities.

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13 responses to “New York City Sustainability: More People, More Resources, More Pollution

  1. I totally agree. New York City is one of the largest cities in the United States and if everybody used a car everyday that would be a huge problem. Luckily, we have the MTA. I go to school in manhattan and live in queens and the way I get there is on the MTA. With its services I’m able to get there faster than the car since there’s usually traffic. Furthermore, MTA is always expanding, meaning that now people are going to have the opportunity to go places on the train they couldn’t go before. The train I use is increasing its distance to now much deeper in manhattan, about 10 more stops. But, of course we still must try to cut down on the oil use as it hurts our plant. In Mexico, certain towns aren’t allowed to use their cars on certain days of the week, and it really helped them. By the government trying to protect our earth a bit more and focus on our environment, New York City can get even cleaner.

  2. As it was implied in the article, New York is a very convenient place to live for the fact that there are numerous methods of transportation, unlike other states like Florida where you’re basically required to drive just to get some groceries. Both my parents and I go to Manhattan every day for work or, in my case, school and we actually have a car which would definitely take us to where we need to go even faster than the MTA. However, instead of driving to Manhattan, we simply take the train and leave the car at home and we only use the car to go to local areas or out of state. Because of this, we save a lot of gas that can last us for the week and cuts down on pollution. I believe that if every New Yorker commuted to their destinations in a similar way, it would really save the world from being polluted and it can make New York an even more convenient city to live in.

  3. I think that over population in cities results in a unique energy formed by differences uniting. Though there is not enough space in new york for everyone to drive a car riding the subway with strangers only adds to a persons life experience and results in a sophisticated individual. It is not just New York that faces the challenges set out by over population. Big cities like London and Paris are also forced to be creative with building design and land use. Subways are a good example of how these places have dealt with making the most out of what they have.

  4. I agree with this article, in the sense that the citizens of New York really do have to make a consistent effort to make this city more environment friendly, so we can have a exponentially growing population. I even think the recent invention of the Citi-bikes was a way to help the environment. All of these cars on the road cause so much pollution in the air, and these bikes, are trying to get the city to stop this pollution and at the same time, stop New York’s hectic traffic on the west-side highway everyday. I think Mayor Bloomberg does really believe in benefitting the city in this way, and i think the only way for New York to have a consistent successfully running city, they need to think of more ways in the future, to make the most of the resources we have, and to first think what is best for the environment

  5. I think that one of the best ways to make the city cleaner is simply by setting laws. While making a law it’s self is no simple thing, would make a huge difference. For example, if it was law that everyone must recycle their news paper, and there was a way of enforcing it, think of all the paper that would save. Or when cleaner, non pollutant cars become popular, it could be illegal to be drive a non clean air car. The MTA has already set an example by using their new clean air hybrid buses. If the rest of New York could follow, the city would be a much more eco friendly place.

    • I disagree first off the non pollutant cars would cost money cutting down more trees going agaisnt the whole idea of being green. Then the laws theres about over 8 million people in NYC how are we supposed to make sure that everyone there would recycle their newspapers or not litter? You need to think about all these things first everything cost money. Money=cutting down trees. If America boosted up the economy and everyone could afford a non pollutant car then life would be easy but the reality not everybody has the luxury of that. Not everyone is going to follow that law and how are u going to ensure that everybody’s going follow the law? have cameras? and be like big brother? No… the people are going to have to change for themselves theres no best way except that you cant force things on people. Well u can but then not everyone follows it

      • I believe that this article is mostly right. As an individual living in Manhattan I can see how the tight space and availibility of public transportation forces everyone to use less cars, therfore hurting the earth less in that essense. As a society, we all must come together and realize that by not creating more cities like Manhattan, not only is more land being occupied, but usage of cars will be up, and resources are abused by more rural areas. The logical way to go is to make laws that will suit environmental needs and needs for the city (and more to be established). But, I do agree with Alexus that by simply making laws, this will pose many challenges that in turn will waste time; With many people with different ideas, needs, and logics, it won’t be easy to compromise on a decision that both the city as a whole and the government fully agree on. not all new yorjers think the same. An example of evironmental disagreement is with the Waste area right along Asphalt Green in the 90s on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Despite the ideas that multiple political members have put forward to the residents on the upper East Side, many people disagree. Now living on the Uperr East Side I disagree as well for multiple reasons, but my point is, that by enforcing laws and suiting pollution problems around the city with the least carbon footprint, Manhattan, steps will not be made as a country to reduce the amount of pollutants released. The people are not only the ones at fault as many major companies continue to sell their products. As a nation, not just city, the people of the U.S need to come together and see that we are destorying our world faster than ever before. Action needs to be made to convince citizens that recycling is not the only thing to change the wolrd

    • I disagree with Ben. There are already laws in place about littering but I see soda cans, Doritos bags, water bottles on the street everywhere. There is not enough people to enforce these laws that you speak of. The truth is people either don’t care, or are lazy at times, or both. I think the on,y possible way to solve this problem is by raising awareness about global warming, lack of resources,etc., so that people will start to care about the world and place they live in. Many companies have started to conform to new “green” ways. For example “Tesla” is a car company that makes electric cars. These electric cars are also very stylish which makes consumers want to buy them. Companies need to start marketing “cool” new “green” products that consumers will want to buy even if they don’t care about the environment

  6. Although the Mta train and bus services are great simply not driving cars a lot is NOT a good solution (as I have read in other comments). This is because people need cars if they live in the NYC but work in places like yonkers, jersey, New Rochelle (or Vise Versa) or any other places that only have highway routes. But for people that live in manhattan and work in manhattan, there is no reason to drive when you can take the train or bus. This city has already begun action by making the bike stations everywhere. So if you live in New York City and have a car the best solution would be not use it as much. One could possibly take the train Monday through Friday and drive on the weekends. This way our city isn’t being polluted with all the pollution

  7. New York is dirty. There are overflowing trashcans surrounded by garbage that missed the can on every corner. If you walked barefoot in New York for a week, you might contract gangrene. However, it’s not as dirty as when I was a little kid. Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment towards eliminating smoking tobacco in New York has really cleaned up our city and I can now proudly say that New York’s smoking population is at an all time low. I don’t see cigarettes on the ground every 3 inches I walk anymore and there is an incredible difference in air quality. I’ve also noticed some hostility towards people who smoke. When someone with a cigarette walks near me on the street, everyone positions themselves far away, cover their mouths and noses with their hand/ coat/scarf (me), or holds their breath, turn their backs, glare at the smoker, or all of the above. Although maybe that is a bit harsh but I really don’t want to get cancer or asthma from second hand smoke so it’s what we need to do to pressure the individuals to quit. It’s not perfectly spotless, but New York is getting so much cleaner.

  8. My father and his organization are running a campaign called the “Green Light District”, a campaign run to make the community of Williamsburg green. With a series of many different meetings in different states, and members of El Puente (his organization), surveying people and places around my community, it is expected that in the next 10-20 years, Williamsburg with be completely green. But, if it takes so long for one community to go green, how long will it take the rest of New York City, let alone the United States, and even bigger, the World? Humans need a wake up call because If we keep doing what we are doing, we could find our selves in a really bad position in the coming years. We’ve already had so many natural disasters, Sandy, Oklahoma tornado, the tornado last year here in New York, floods everywhere, forest fires; what’s going to come next? The documentary “Six Degrees Can Change the World” was really an eye opener for me because when you think about it, 6 degrees is a lot. It doesn’t mean in a span of a week, but if you take the overall average of the high/low temp. every year, add/subtract 6 degrees to that, and you have an ice age or a burning planet. So, i think that we REALLLYYYY need to start acting faster in order to become green, whether it’s cutting down on all cars so we can stop burning so many fossil fuels, stop using so much electricity, turn off the water when you’re not using it, and these are only the little steps we can take in order to save a city, and slowly but surely save our planet.

  9. I some what agree with this article. The simple and logical way to go is to make laws that work for both political members and citizens. As a New Yorker in Manhattan, I can hands on see how the limited space allows many people to flock to public transportation, using less cars, and therefore having less of a carbon foot print on the world. As the environment is deteriorating from each human action, I think that not only does each societal member need to see that they need to take action, but also that recycling and taking the subway is not the only way to be green. In this article I feel that Manhattan was looked at as the most needy city, but in general I feel that even rural areas like a random town in the middle of Utah are needy. Living in cities rather than towns seems to make the most sense to reduce the amount of cars used, along with pollution. So, rural areas should follow Manhattan’s structure to not only reduce the amount of pollutants released when driving everywhere, but also to limit people to only buy and consume what they can fit in their house. The vendors and large brand name companies are also to blame besides the people because they are continuously selling products that hurt the environment to make, and also to be used. Both citizens and companies are at fault here. But, the main point I am trying to get across is that it will take more than just making laws to have a change. As seen on the Upper East Side with all the riots along Asphalt Green about a waste area proves how the government and politics are not always easy to compromise with when forming laws. To prevent such pollution from happening and taking a while to take place like Asphalt Green’s possible new near by waste center, as a society, the people need to start making decisions on rural space and convert to cities in order to reduce pollution, and reduce over population with many more people in our future!

  10. New York Transportation revolves around the MTA system. Like thousands of other students, daily I travel an hour commute to attend school. If this commute was made by car, the city would be harmed immensely. We as citizens of New York have to open our eyes and indulge in the changes happening all around us. It is our job to personally alter our actions for the better and hope to improve our community. The population of New York is barley sustainable however it is continuously increasing and there is no way to put a stop to that. Traveling by car is one way to help reduce means of pollution however we must take other less gradual actions to make sure our city continues to be as amazing as it is.

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