Traditional measures of a great city include good schools, affordable living and decent healthcare. Modern-minded residents add social responsibility and environmental values to the list of must-have’s. These top cities not only embrace sustainability but thrive on environmental responsibility. Pack your bags for greener pastures and make the move to an eco-friendly way of life.
The Rose City set the bar with its stance against urban sprawl, which protects 25 million acres of forest and farmland outside city confines. Within the city of Portland, residents will find an unmatched bike culture, organized mass transit and dense neighborhoods for great walkability. Sustainability is less of an effort and more of a way of life. The city-supported solid-waste program currently recycles 50 percent of community waste and aspires to raise the recycling rate to 75 percent by 2015, according to PortlandOregon.gov. With over 50 public buildings that meet tough standards set by the United States Green Building Council, it’s likely every building you step into has a positive impact on the environment.
New York City, New York
The Big Apple is ripe for organic picking. Among the high-rises, traffic and tourists, the city sprouts with sustainability. New Yorkers walk the talk when it comes to public transportation. Through the use of mass transit, residents avoid use of 23 million tons of carbon emissions annually. They key to lowered fossil fuel emissions lies within population density. This does mean tighter quarters, but it’s a small price to pay for fresh air. Plus, who needs to be indoors when Central Park offers acres of green pastures in which to frolic? For those cold winter days when you do bundle up indoors, here are some tips to make the most of your space:
- Make small spaces functional with practical furnishings, as ForRent suggests. One example is an ottoman that doubles as storage.
- Maximize square footage by utilizing areas above cabinets and furniture. If you have high ceilings, incorporate tall book shelves to draw the eye upward.
- Use a lighter color palate to brighten your space. Softer hues like grays, yellows and creams make rooms appear bigger and more spacious.
Advocating sustainability since 1898, this college town is equal parts beauty and brains. Green in every sense of the word, Boulder’s lush landscapes are preserved by local efforts. The city’s Zero Waste Project partnered with businesses like Eco-Cycle to minimize waste in multi-family homes. These city-supported efforts encourage a future of hiking, biking and rock climbing enthusiasts for generations to come. More than just an outdoor paradise, Boulder also offers eco-minded evening entertainment. Dining facilities, like Bramble and Hare, support local farming. Farm-to-table initiatives not only guarantee the freshest food options, but also support sustainable agriculture.
Unlike the aforementioned cities, Santa Monica is not restricted by city boundaries that confine the impacts of urban sprawl. Against all odds, this California gem has reduced greenhouse gas emissions through its Sustainable City Plan. This transit-driven city supports environmental practices by implementing the use of alternative fuel on public work vehicles. The city also mandates the use of renewable energy in all public buildings. Combining fun in the sun with eco-friendly practices, this coastal community embraces all things outdoors. Imagine mornings at the farmers market, meeting neighbors at community gardens, and strolling the boardwalk at sunset. Just pack your flip-flops and sunscreen and make your move.