America’s 5 Greenest Cities

By: jjensen | May 5, 2015 (Edited July 7, 2017)


There's no fighting it anymore: going green is here to stay. Individual people aren't the only ones trying to make changes in their lives to be more environmentally friendly. Entire cities are taking initiatives to give themselves "green" reputations among residents and visitors.

There are a number of factors that make a city green: recycling laws and programs, sustainable dining, CO2 emissions, parks, public transit, taxi and carpool services, and pedestrian and bike-friendliness. As cities and residents take time to monitor wasteful habits, they can work together to improve sustainability. The top 5 cities that have done the best job of this are, in no particular order, as follows:

  1. Seattle, WA
    Seattle has a host of laws in place to protect the environment. Among those laws is the plastic bag ban: Seattle retailers are required to charge 5 cents for each plastic bag used - and some opt to charge 10 cents for heavier bags. They also have a law in place that makes it illegal to throw food in the trash - this has to be composted.Seattle has a large number of parks (7 per 10,000 residents) and half of the populations walks, bikes, carpools, or uses public transit to get to work.
  2. San Francisco, CA
    San Francisco is the home to two of our favorite car sharing services: Uber and Lyft. On their website, Lyft says that their car sharing service, which allows commuters to carpool at random, makes up more than 50% of the rides they give.Like Seattle, they also have a fine for using plastic bags. Another sustainable feature San Francisco offers is a curbside pick-up compost program.
  3. St. Paul, MN
    St. Paul has 84 miles of off-street paths and 46 miles of city bikeways. With these amenities, it's no wonder such a large portion of the population bikes to work. St. Paul is also known for their green restaurants that use organic foods and sustainable electricity.At 45, St. Paul has one of the best air quality index scores around the country.
  4. Portland, OR
    Portland is also a biker-friendly city that encourages it's residents to use sustainable ways to get to work. And it works - over 40% of the popular bikes, walks, carpools, or uses public transit to get to work.When you look at total carbon emissions per capita, Portland is in the lowest 20 percent of U.S. cities. They also have have a plan in place to increase citywide recycling to 75% by the end of this year.
  5. Austin, TX
    Austin is the birthplace to organic food giant Whole Foods. In fact, the entire city has lots of organic options for eating. Austin is also the home to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, which was built with 100% recycled steel. The entire city has pledged to go carbon-neutral by 2020.Austin also has 50 miles of luscious trails, and their air quality typically falls in the "good" range on the air quality index score.

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Written by jjensen

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