By Della Hasselle
MANHATTAN — On Earth Day, many New Yorkers will stop and think about how they could make their lives greener and be more eco-friendly.
But for some small businesses in Manhattan, Earth Day isn't just on Friday, it's every day. DNAinfo spoke to three businesses that have made being eco-friendly a year-round practice.
Anvil Knitwear is a Manhattan-based T-shirt company that uses organic cotton and recycled materials for their "Eco-Collection."
The Midtown-based company recently launched a line called "TrackMyT" that allows consumers to trace their shirt's development online, all the way from the farm the cotton came from to the location of the store where it was purchased.
Anvil hopes to launch a public school lesson plan, complete with classroom farms, that shows how cotton is cleaned and how crop rotation is vital to organic farming. To mark Earth Day, Anvil will demonstrate the new program they hope to bring to New York City classrooms at the EarthFair art and music festival in Grand Central Terminal.
Hopefully, the lessons will teach students how and why buying organic materials is as important as buying organic groceries, said Anvil vice president Caterina Conti.
"You see that it's not just about cotton, but also about food," she said. "It's critically important that people understand how products are made."
One of the things that Manhattanites look for most when choosing environmentally-friendly businesses are transparent business practices and organic product ingredients, said Joanna Black, the president of nonprofit advocacy group Earth Day New York.
"You want to know where a product comes from. Ten years ago, people didn't care so much," Black said. "Now with global warming they realize that protecting our resources is much more important."
Greenwich Village's GustOrganics says it's the first and only restaurant in New York to use completely USDA certified organic ingredients.
Located on Sixth Avenue and West 14th Street, the restaurant uses completely natural and local ingredients to create dishes such as grass-fed tenderloin in chimichurri sauce, homemade brioche with fresh orange marmalade and lentil and eggplant patty veggie burgers with baked sweet potato fries.
The restaurant also uses its own compost, runs off of wind energy, uses solar lighting, and even reduces its carbon footprint with corn straws and soy ink for its menus.
"New York is one of the most sophisticated societies in the world. But I didn't like the food. It wasn't fresh," GustOrganics' CEO Alberto Gonzalez, a native of Argentina, said about his motivation to start the restaurant in Manhattan.
"When I used to stay here for business, I noticed I was more tired, lacked energy, and gained a lot of weight. I realized I took for granted the freshness and quality of the food in Argentina."
Although Gonzalez is concerned about the environment, he maintains that his inspiration came from his years searching for the world's most delicious foods.
"You taste every single flavor and nothing more," he said.
The Upper East Side's Hallak Cleaners is already one of the city's 30 cleaners that uses green alternatives to traditional dry cleaning. But this year, the business — located on Second Avenue between East 64th and East 65th streets — has taken eco-friendliness a step further.
Hallak Cleaners has launched a Hanger Recycling Initiative. For every hanger returned, Hallak will donate 10 cents to the Making Headway Foundation, a New-York based organization that funds research and care for children with spine and brain tumors.
The company says the program will help reduce the estimated 15.5 million hangers that end up in landfills on a daily basis, the company said on its website.
The transition to eco-friendly business practice is here to stay in the city, Black said.
"It's really important for businesses to be green nowadays, because as a business owner, you need to stay on top of what is important to the local New Yorkers around you," she said.
"New Yorkers want to have a choice," Black said. "It's an expectation that there will be businesses out there who want to do the right thing."