Green City: San Juan, Puerto Rico

by Melody Morrow

We, the editors at, have decided to chronicle our travels and highlight some of the green aspects in various cities. Please feel free to submit city ideas and information for upcoming Green City features.

While visiting Old San Juan there were many wonderful sights to see. The historic cobblestone streets and historic buildings filled with lots of old world charm and friendly people were outstanding. Old San Juan felt European and at the same time had a small taste of SOHO.

Several “natives” I spoke with shared their appreciation of vida natural or natural living. One woman in particular told me she lived in the Chelsea section of NYC for 15 years, but came back to her Puerto Rican roots and is living by a beautiful waterfall and the Atlantic Ocean. Definitely can’t find that in Manhattan.

In Old San Juan they have a free trolley sponsored by the government to take you around the city, which was a fun way to visit the historic sites like El Morro and not have to take taxis. You could smell the fresh air! The weather was bright and sunny everyday and a bit balmy in the evening.

Old San Juan is a great little walking city. While strolling along the piers I found a tiny café which offered fair trade coffee and great cappuccinos. One of the best surprises, green or not, was the quality of the food. Definitely superior without costing an arm and a leg. They must use real ingredients in their food unlike the many processed foods that abound in the states! The shop owners were very appreciative of my business and enthusiastic about their offerings.

While meandering through the city I came upon one store set to open soon called Cariloha Bamboo, which sells bamboo sheets and towels along with apparel. These retail stores are also located throughout the Caribbean, Alaska, other parts of the US and growing. Wonder if they will be planting bamboo roots in Nueva York anytime soon?

In my hotel room I found some green surprises. One of the dresser drawers housed a magazine called Miboda and its green edition showcasing eco friendly weddings. Even though it was all in Spanish it was fun to try to use my college Spanish to figure it out. On the desk in my room there were great looking branded hotel materials, simple and elegant, one of which talks about making a green choice. Each time you decline housekeeping services except for day of departure you can receive a $5 voucher at participating food and beverage outlets or points awarded to you. All the materials including the room key are made of recycled materials.

Next time you are in Old San Juan let us know what you discover.

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