8 of the Most Eco-Friendly Places to Live in the U.S.
If someone asked you to name a sustainable neighborhood, you might name a rural area. However, urban hubs can be surprisingly green when city planners and concerned citizens come together to create layouts designed to allow people to live in better harmony with the planet. Some of the most eco-friendly places to live in the U.S. are also among the most widely recognized names for their size and population.
That means you have many options when choosing a sustainable city to call home. Where should you relocate? Here are eight of the most eco-friendly places to live in the U.S.
1. Portland, Oregon
A recent study, sponsored by the travel blog ParkSleepFly, revealed Portland to be the most sustainable city in the U.S. The title makes sense, given the city’s progressive image. Oregon uses more renewable energy than any other state and Portland receives high marks for dark skies and a thorough strategy to combat carbon emissions.
Although the cost of living is high, you’ll love living in Portland. The city is the ideal blend of eclectic shops and the surrounding Pacific Northwest environment provides some of the best outdoor living anywhere. You’ll appreciate the clean air when you hit the trail.
Notable things to do in Portland include:
- Visiting the Saturday market.
- Touring the Pittock Mansion.
- Having a picnic at Hoyt Arboretum.
- Stopping to smell the roses at the International Rose Test Garden.
2. Decatur, Georgia
The city of Decatur was among the first certified under the Atlantic Regional Commission’s Green Communities Program. It has implemented programs relating to the following factors to reduce the environmental impact of human activity:
- Green building
- Green power
- Parks and green space
- Recycling and Waste Reduction
You may need to install hurricane windows when you live in Georgia, but doing so also increases your sustainability. You can reduce your energy use by up to $100 per month — even if you don’t go solar.
3. San Diego, California
California is the most populated state and San Diego’s placement on this list shows you can be eco-friendly even with many people in one place. Their commitment to green energy initiatives and reducing fossil fuel use is unparalleled.
The city has already surpassed its goal of diverting 75% of waste away from landfills and into recycling facilities. It also collects food scraps and green waste, making composting possible even for apartment dwellers.
The city’s beautiful year-round weather makes it the ideal place to live and work. You can also make your commute more sustainable — hop on an e-bike and soak in the gorgeous 70-degree temperatures on your way to work.
4. New York, New York
Could the Big Apple be a model of an eco-friendly place to live? Yes! Forget going electric — you won’t need a car in the city that never sleeps. Ample public transportation options get you to your destination faster than you could drive. However, you might launch an exhilarating career as a bicycle messenger, if you’re an adrenaline junkie.
More and more living spaces in the city have transformed in recent years, with rooftop gardens becoming the norm and improved water and power to keep energy costs low.
Additionally, the city boasts numerous parks. Central Park might be the most famous, but you can also visit the following places:
- Pelham Bay
- The Staten Island Greenbelt
- Van Cortlandt Park
- Flushing Meadows
- The High Line
5. Burlington, Vermont
You’d expect a city once led by Senator Bernie Sanders to lead the way in green development and Burlington, Vermont doesn’t disappoint. The city is the first to run entirely on renewable energy from these various sources:
You can also visit the Intervale Community Farm to learn about various sustainable growing techniques you can use in your home garden.
6. Boston, Massachusetts
A little over three hours away from Burlington is Boston, another eco-friendly city that’s a great place to call home. Do you love seafood? The area’s many lobster harvesters have a decided interest in changing ocean temperatures, compelling them to do more for sustainability while putting the freshest and least expensive healthy meals on your plate.
Boston is also known for its open spaces. The Boston Greenbelt encircles the city with 90 miles of trail space for biking and hiking. Take the kiddos — youth who grow up spending time outdoors become better stewards of the natural world as adults.
7. Scottsdale, Arizona
Climate change makes a big impact in regions where summertime temperatures already top 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The city of Scottsdale takes its role as an eco-friendly place to live seriously.
Water is at a premium in the desert and this city pioneered a solution — total wastewater recycling and water banking through advanced purification. This reduces their draw on surface water like lakes and rivers, especially the Colorado, which supply much of the drinking water and power to the valley of the sun. The city has also partnered with nearby Arizona State University to research a heat mitigation plan for a changing climate.
8. Minneapolis, Minnesota
How often did you read the advice to replace your old incandescent bulbs with compact LEDs to reduce energy consumption? You probably didn’t think about the ones in street lights, but the city of Minneapolis did.
In addition, this city has done quite a lot to make biking safe, with lanes separated by grassy medians to deter drivers from endangering riders. You can even register your bike to give yourself a better chance of getting it back if it’s lost or stolen.
Eco-Friendly Places to Live
Don’t dismiss urban life when seeking an eco-friendly place to live. The eight locations above are among America’s greenest. By considering one of these cities for your next relocation, feel good about where you call home.