Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Greenest Of The Green

We recycle what we can...or at least what we remember to. That is, if there is a recycling bin around...close...nearby.  Ok, if we don't see one, we throw it into the trash.  It's easier than carrying it around in the car and remembering to get it out when we get to a recycling bin, if we remember to look for one. In our fast-pace, busy lives, the last thing we need is to try to remember one more thing. What we are looking for is ease and convenience.
Recycling, even the more convenient and up-to-date Single Stream recycling, takes time and effort on our part to make happen successfully. Single Stream recycling, as adopted by the majority of cities, allows residents to place all of their recyclables into the same container loose, unsorted, and unbagged. States, cities, and people in general will have higher participation rates if it is as convenient as possible. If there were a recycling bin next to every trash container we saw, would the recycling rate be higher?

Let's examine the top recycling cities in the United States to see where each ranks:

10. Austin, Texas - An ambitious goal set by this city is to be carbon neutral by 2020. Austin Energy is 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 definitely within reach.

9.  Chicago, IL - The windy city has embraced land sustainability far longer than we could have thought. In 1909, pioneering city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham created a long-range plan for the lakefront that balanced urban growth, and created a permanent greenbelt around the metropolitan area. This greening of the city continues through the Chicago Green Roof Program. More than 2.5 million square feet of city roofs support plant life, including Willis Tower (formerly called Sears Tower) and the city hall building.
8.  Seattle, WA - The unofficial coffee klatch capitol of the country is also interested in sustainable living. More than 20 public buildings in Seattle are LEED-certified or under construction for LEED certification. Through an incentive program, residents are encouraged to install solar panels on their homes for energy conservation. Sustainable Ballard, a green neighborhood group and sustainability festival host, offers ongoing workshops about how to live in harmony with the environment.

7.  Berkeley, CA - A great place to find an abundance of organic and vegetarian restaurants is also on the cutting edge of sustainability. Berkeley is recognized as a leader in the incubation of clean technology for wind power, solar power, biofuels and hydropower.
6.  Cambridge, MA - In 2008, Prevention Magazine named Cambridge "the best walking city." Thoreau's Walden Pond can be found in nearby Concord, and education powerhouses Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University are located here. In 2002, city officials implemented a major climate protection plan and today most city vehicles are fueled by B20 biodiesel or electricity. All new construction or major renovations must meet LEED standards. A project called "Compost that Stuff" collects and processes organic waste from residents, restaurants, bars and hotels.

5.  Eugene, OR - Known as the Emerald City for its natural green beauty, this baby boomer haven and second largest city in the state has been doing the "green" thing since the 1960s. In 2008, after only one year of service, the Emerald Express, a hybrid public transit system, won a Sustainable Transport award. Cycling is the preferred mode of transportation, made possible by the 30 miles of off-street bike paths and 29 dedicated bike routes, which total a whopping 150 miles of smog-free travel throughout the metro area.

4.  Oakland, CA -
Residents of this port city have access to an abundance of fresh, organic food, much of which is locally sourced. It's also home to the nation's cleanest tap water, hydrogen-powered public transit and the country's oldest wildlife refuge. Oakland also plans to have zero waste and be oil-independent by 2020, and already gets 17 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

3.  Boston, MA - Sustainability efforts include a "Green by 2015" goal to replace traditional taxi cabs with hybrid vehicles, recycle trash to power homes, use more solar panels, and use more electric motorbikes for transportation. The city's first annual Down2Earth conference was held in 2008, which is designed to educate residents about how to live the most sustainable lifestyle.
2.  San Francisco, CA - America's solar energy leader, this vibrant city of cultural tolerance is also the first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags, a concept that supports its effort to divert 75 percent of landfill waste by 2010.

And the #1 green city in the United States is.....

1.  Portland, OR - No. 1 in sustainability. Declared the most bikeable city in the United States for its 200 miles of dedicated bike lanes, Portland certainly makes forgoing gas-powered travel easy. For lessons in DIY sustainable food sources, classes are available for container gardening, among other things.

Implementing recycling standards and sustainability city-wide, state-wide, and ultimately world-wide is possible through green efforts and ongoing recycling education. To learn more about what you can do to help visit www.wasteawaygroup.com 


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