Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in America. While “going green” has nearly become a cliché in today’s day in age, the environmentally friendly initiatives undertaken by individuals, companies and cities across the nation have undoubtedly made a positive impact in our world.
In honor of Earth Day, our team at DriveTheNation.com has compiled our favorite eco-friendly cities in America:
San Francisco, California
San Francisco was the first city in our nation to ban plastic shopping bags, a law that was set in place back in 2007. The entire state of California followed suit in 2014 when it became the first state in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic bags. San Francisco is also highly innovative and progressive when it comes to its recycling and composting programs. All residents and businesses are required to separate their recyclables, compost and landfill trash into their color-coordinated bins. The city’s goal is to reach zero waste by 2020.
The Windy City has embraced land sustainability for more than 100 years. The initiative began in 1909 to create a greenbelt around the city and continues today with Chicago’s Green Roof Program. According to the city’s website, green roofs help to keep rainwater out of overburdened sewer systems, reduce urban temperatures, improve the air quality in densely developed neighborhoods, and reduce a building’s energy costs. The city has more green roofs than any other U.S. city.
Portland has been declared the most “bikeable” city in the U.S. for its 200 miles of bike lanes. It also boasts 288 parks, 2,000 acres of green space and more than 74 miles of hiking and running trails. Studies estimate that nearly one forth of the city is shaded by tree canopies. It is also the first U.S. city to enact a comprehensive plan to reduce CO2 emissions and has aggressively pushed green building initiatives.
In 2008, Prevention Magazine named Cambridge “the best walking city.” Thoreau’s Walden Pond can be found in Concord, and education powerhouses Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University are located in this environmentally friendly town. Nearby Boston also ranks high among the urban green elite. Sustainability efforts in Boston include a “Green by 2015” goal to replace traditional taxi cabs with hybrid vehicles, recycle trash to power homes and use more electric motorbikes for transportation.
The city of Austin, Texas, is poised to set an example for the rest of the country, having successfully managed to shift its fiscal and social focus towards conservation and alternative energy, according to Huffington Post. The forward-thinking city has set its sights on becoming carbon natural by 2020. Austin is also home to the nation’s top seller of renewable energy among 850 utility-sponsored programs, which makes its goal to power the city solely on clean energy within reach.
What’s your favorite eco-friendly city? We’d love to hear about the earth-friendly initiatives happening in YOUR hometown. Share your stories and #EarthDay photos with us on social media by tagging #DriveTheNation.