Leave It Better

East Village Bed and Coffee: Little Place, Big Ideas

Posted 06/28/2010

Changes, especially in the business world, start from the ground up.  Big companies typically look for financially stable opportunities, as they don’t want to endanger jobs or profits with new ventures.  Smaller companies, on the other hand, are able to take risks and try out new things.  As these new businesses succeed and fail, the best ideas funnel through to the larger companies.  Seems  simple, right?  

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The green movement is slowly, but surely, getting there.  Many people are making conscious decisions to create environmentally sound business models that help themselves, their companies, and the planet. 

A few days ago, I had the chance to visit East Village Bed and Coffee, a bed and breakfast located on Avenue C dedicated to maintaining a green lifestyle.  Owner, Anne Edris, showed me around the place, a small 3 floor building in the East Village - formerly a deli.  Built in 1904, the place served as a deli until it was abandoned nearly 20 years ago.  She took out a lease on the first floor with a friend in 1992 after her old apartment building burnt down.  Needing to supplement the rent when her roommate moved out, Anne decided to place an ad in a German newspaper and hasn’t looked back since.

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Every room in the place has a different theme - the Dutch Room, the Empty Nester, even a subway themed bathroom on the second floor.  These quirky sensibilities set EVB&C apart from other New York hotels.  But another element that makes it quite different than most places to stay is the environmentally conscious agenda put forth by Anne.  Without even really thinking about it, she created a bed and breakfast that cares about the planet.  

Here are 10 simple solutions she uses to keep her place eco- and guest-friendly.  

  1. Basic things like recycling are key at EVB&C.  They recycle EVERYTHING that they can.  From plastic bottles to batteries, everything is put in its proper place to be reused or disposed of properly.  Anne takes great pride in composting waste, too.  She even gets umbrellas donated from the beer garden across the street.  
  2. Another big waste producer in larger hotels is cleaning.  Since 1992, they have used Simple Green products to keep the building squeaky clean.  
  3. On a related note, laundry is not being done every day.  A big expense and energy waster for hotels is cleaning towels and sheets.  (Many larger hotels now ask you if you want new towels and sheets)  Doing that much laundry creates an unnecessary energy demand. -- Anne brings up the point, how often do people do laundry at home?  Not every night --  When they do laundry over at EVB&C, they use a biodegradable detergent.
  4. Double windows not only help with keeping out street noise, but also help the efficiency of heating and air conditioning.
  5. EVB&C is a nearly paperless business.  Upon request, guests can ask for things printed, but are encouraged to print as little as possible.  For book keeping purposes, one copy of guests receipts are kept in paper form.    
  6. Paper scraps are put to good use.  And spare blank areas of discarded paper are cut into squares to use as scrap paper throughout the building - a technique used by Anne’s grandmother during the Depression.  Think about how many of those little hotel pads could be done away with using a method like this.  (Although you’d end your trip with one less souvenir)
  7. Some of the furnishings came from other people’s trash.  A kitchen table, filing cabinets, doors (used as faux walls to create the main office space), etc. were all once discarded items.  It is important to note, though, that Anne refrains from reusing things like mattresses for cleanliness and health purposes.  
  8. The lobby houses numerous pieces of art made from recycled items.  The most interesting of which (to me, at least) is a portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. created only from MetroCards.   
  9. One of the most basic elements of keeping green that I often overlook is the importance of natural light.  The window above the entrance and the skylight on the main floor flood the first floor with light during the day.  This means never having to turn on a light during the day which is obviously more energy efficient than any CFL or LED.  
  10. Knowing the patrons at EVB&C are on the go (the name Bed and Coffee coming from the idea that people run out in the morning instead of sitting down for a full breakfast), they are always encouraged to bike around New York City.  Bikes are provided and stored by the entrance for guests to use at their convenience.  

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In just a quick hour walking around and talking with Anne, I realized that some of these little tweaks that could easily be put into practice even in my day to day life, not just with businesses.  And hopefully, soon you’ll see them used at your favorite vacation destination. 


Posted by Graham Meriwether on
Awesome blog Josh. Very inspiring, and pragmatic, all at once...
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