In support of the City’s ongoing, comprehensive fight to address climate change, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, with support from NYC Parks and the Natural Areas Conservancy, is partnering with outdoor retailer REI Co-op to launch Opt to Act NYC.
Opt to Act NYC, is a yearlong campaign designed to create a more sustainable New York City through time spent outside. The campaign is part of REI’s nationwide #OptOutside initiative, which this year encourages people to leave the outdoors better than they found it and to take small steps throughout the year to reduce their environmental impact. In New York, Opt to Act NYC will activate New Yorkers to not only enjoy the tens of thousands of acres of New York City’s natural areas and parks, but also provide pathways to protect our natural environment in the face of climate change.
“Our current climate crisis is the great generational challenge of our time, and tackling it will require courageous and intentional shifts in all sectors of our economy, from retail to real estate, from governance to academia,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “We’re proud to join forces with REI to help New Yorkers and our shared global community be inspired by the great outdoors right in their backyards, and #OptToAct on climate.”
“REI is deeply committed to helping New Yorkers experience a life connected to nature right outside their doors,” said Melissa Abramson, REI local brand engagement manager for the east. “We are thrilled to work together with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to help members of our community discover their local parks, connect with each other and live more sustainable lives in a city we all love.”
Opt to Act NYC starts with a month of action and stewardship throughout November that helps kick off a year of positive change for every New Yorker that participates. Partners holding events for the month of action include NYC Parks, Natural Areas Conservancy, Transportation Alternatives, NYC Mountain Bike Association, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists and Prospect Park Alliance. Over the course of the year, REI will continue to collaborate with MOS to support a variety of existing citywide stewardship and civic engagement programs, including collaborating with DemocracyNYC to register New Yorkers to vote and raise awareness of necessary climate and environmental policies and programs.
Research notes that spending time outside for even 5 minutes can have immediate, positive impacts on mental health and mood, and additional studies suggest a link between experiencing the natural world and behaving in a sustainable way. The goal of this program is to provide more opportunities for all New Yorkers to reap the benefits of nature, while fostering greater environmental concern and sustainable behaviors.
To celebrate the launch of the campaign, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, NYC Parks, Natural Areas Conservancy, REI and partners will hold a Zero-Waste kick-off event open to the public this evening, Thursday, Oct 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, REI SOHO, 303 Lafayette Street, to inspire and mobilize New Yorkers about all the ways they can spend time outside and support natural areas.
To learn more, stay up-to-date on Opt to Act NYC initiatives, and get involved, click here.
“When it comes to the biggest problems we face locally or globally, like climate change, we know collective action and partnership is the only pathway to success,” said Darren Bloch, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships. “We are thrilled to see our Office of Sustainability and private sector partners like REI continue to advance creative ways to bring us all together around issues of shared interest and concern.”
“Countless studies have shown that parks positively affect the communities around them. In addition to beautifying our city, parks play an integral role in the mental and physical health of New Yorkers,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “I’m proud to support the Opt to Act campaign, and urge everyone to become stewards and advocates for their local greenspaces, through this program and beyond.”
“There are nearly 20,000 acres of natural areas across the entire city, and our goal is to ensure that the precious forests and coastlines we have remain healthy and resilient for generations to come,” said Elizabeth Jaeger, Deputy Director of Programs at NAC. “Volunteerism and community engagement in caring for these areas are a critical part of that, so we are thrilled to partner with REI and the Mayor’s Office to offer even more opportunities for New Yorkers to mobilize, enjoy, and help steward their local nature.”
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“DemocracyNYC is thrilled to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and REI to raise awareness about how exercising your right to vote can move the needle on an issue as critical as climate change. We look forward to working together to make sure every New Yorker knows their voice has the power to impact the things that matter most to them,” said Rini Fonseca-Sabune, Chief Democracy Officer
“Spending time outdoors in natural areas can have a positive effect on health, including blood pressure, depression, and physical activity levels,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “This campaign also provides opportunities to interact with neighbors in parks and green spaces, which can encourage social ties and connections to the community.”
Photo credit: Inwood park.