posted 2012-04-25 23:42:53

A New Green Team

How Ethikus, a new online resouce, hopes to paint the town green

Brianna Maury

Contributing Writer

Ethikus is an online resource that helps New Yorkers discover ethical and sustainable businesses in their area. By doing so, they hope to help local ethical businesses succeed and continue to motivate environmentally responsible business practices.

Whether or not you’ve noticed, locavore is the new hit trend in the picky eater community. This movement, which is building popularity faster than vegetarianism, calls for its followers to eat food that is locally produced without traveling long distances for consumption. In recent years, the locavore movement has gained steam particularly in New York, with those adhering to its principles expanding upon their requirements for food: it should be organic, it should be sustainably produced, and it should have minimal environmental impact.

As stated on its website, ethikus was started because of a desire, “to support local stores that donate to community organizations, use eco-friendly products in their kitchens, provide for their employees, and are focused on reducing their store’s impact on the environment.” Basically, ethikus could be considered a supporter of the locavore movement.

Ethikus does not just hook up the locavore lovers though, they also tap into the ever growing market of online group deals – think Groupon and LivingSocial. They are a green answer to this sort of group deal purchase. Just like on Groupon.com, ethikus offers discounts at various restaurants, and sometimes even free tickets to events, with the primary difference being that all of their deals reflect green goals! This means that when you buy from ethikus you buy into a more environmentally sustainable future.

Another part of ethikus’s mission is to engage undergraduate students who care about sustainability issues. Ethikus hosted a Sustainable Students Collective on April 6 where many student groups were invited to network and learn more about ethikus. Guest organizations included the Hunter Sustainability Project, Marymount Manhattan College Environmental Club, Barnard EcoReps, and NYU Net Impact, among others. The event was held at East Village mainstay, Ciao for Now, one of ethikus’ local and ethical businesses.

Through the Sustainable Students Collective mixer, ethikus tried to mobilize students to promote Shop Your Values Week, which starts on May 3. The week- long event will hopefully bring together 20,000 New Yorkers to shop at ethikus- approved stores. Ethikus is looking for volunteers and partners for the event. People interested in signing the pledge to shop their values can go to www. ShopYourValuesWeek.com to see all of the participating businesses. There is also a section where you can nominate your favorite local businesses to be listed in ethikus’ directory of ethical stores.

These activities were all promoted at the Sustainable Students Collective, but more important than that was the continued encouragement of networking between environmentally conscious students around New York. While there are many clubs at each college planning and hosting green events and workshops, “change can only be achieved if we all work together,” one NYU student said. This event, which was the first of its kind, aimed to bring together students of nine different colleges around the city to discuss how teamwork could help promote goals towards sustainability.

Hunter students, particularly from the Hunter Sustainability Project, found the event interesting and rewarding. As preparations for Earth Week at Hunter become increasingly urgent, students found a welcome break in getting to know other colleges and their goals. The discussion repeatedly came back to one of promoting awareness and education at the university setting in the hopes of ensuring a new generation of green graduates in future years.

Ethikus is still in its beta pilot phase, which is taking place solely in New York. For Hunter students it involves a bit of travel to get to their current neighborhoods - all below 14th Street. However, for those at Hunter who care to eat sustainably, this is a company to support and watch grow!