Litter is a severe problem in America. With the popularity of fast food and convenience stores, finding places free from the trash is becoming even more challenging.
But help is on the horizon! These 16 cleanest cities in the US are leading efforts toward sustainable living with their extensive recycling initiatives. These cities keep streets clean with environmentally-friendly methods like recycling programs, food waste composting programs, eco-friendly ways of living, and innovative green efforts.
To make it onto this list, cities must show they have a track record of sustainable practices. Whether through recycling services or a more sustainable alternative like food waste composting, these cities are doing the most to keep streets free from trash and air free from pollution.
Cleanest Cities in the US
The United States is a nation of many remarkable landmarks and cities. While some are known for their beauty, such as New York City and Washington D.C., others stand out for their dedication to sustainability.
Here are sixteen cities in the United States that have set a high standard for what is achievable concerning recycling facilities and sustainable living practices. These spots keep streets clean with environmentally-friendly methods like curbside carts and food waste composting programs from electronic waste to bottles.
1. Honolulu, Hawaii
Perhaps it is not surprising that Honolulu is ranked first on the American Lung Association’s list of cleanest cities. Whether you live there or visit, you may enjoy the pristine beaches and clean air. The tropical city of Honolulu and the state of Hawaii are dedicated to expanding their green efforts. It mainly relies on fossil fuels due to tourism and the military, however, it has established a target of using 100 percent clean energy by 2045.
2. Overland Park, Kansas
With a population of almost 200,000, one might expect that maintaining cleanliness in Overland Park would be challenging. On the other hand, Overland Park is the second-cleanest city in the U.S., with the fourth-lowest percentage of residences with mice or rats. The city uses a composting program that is used for all its residential waste, as well as some businesses. The majority of the city’s garbage is recycled and composted. The city also operates an automated trash-removal system and has a collaborative recycling program with different counties.
3. Dallas-Fort Worth
This is a place where cleanliness and social justice coexist. In Dallas, the Clean Slate initiative compensates homeless individuals for their assistance in cleaning up the city’s streets, adding to the city’s overall beauty. While it does have high ozone days, the American Lung Association ranks it as one of the cleanest urban areas in the country.
4. Columbus, Ohio
Columbus has the fourth-cleanest living conditions in the country, with the second-lowest percentage of residences having mice or rats. Additionally, the city boasts among the country’s lowest pollution levels, which results in high citizen satisfaction.
5. Orlando, Florida
Orlando is a top destination for families, known for its amusement parks, resorts, and golf courses. It was recently included in the American Lung Association’s cleanest cities list for the very first time. According to their report, Orlando relies on natural gas, which emits fewer air pollutants than coal-fired power plants.
The city has its own Downtown Clean Team that works to keep the area clean. Its objective is to make cities more livable by clearing up rubbish and eradicating graffiti. Volunteers help make this city a model for clean streets and quality air.
6. Burlington, New Jersey
Burlington is a city devoted to living sustainably. The Vermont community was the first in the U.S. to utilize only renewable energy to power its people’s homes. The city concentrates its efforts on educating its inhabitants about the catastrophic consequences of climate change and modernizing its water infrastructure. According to the American Lung Association’s clean city list, Burlington is one of the most pristine metropolitan regions and has one of the purest ozone.
7. Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina, is known for its civic pride. It is ranked as one of the cleanest cities because it has adopted sustainable practices such as zero waste and recycling programs. In addition to being an excellent place for families to live, the city’s beauty is renowned in the U.S. Water has a massive influence in the city. A river runs in the middle, and there are nearby beaches. Also, one key factor in the cleanness of their city is the eco-friendly lifestyle of its citizens.
8. Lincoln, Oregon
Lincoln is one of the cleanest cities in the United States. This city is home to many historical landmarks that are in excellent condition. It has a community farm that harvests its produce to be donated to its local food pantry or sold at farmers’ markets. They have fantastic water treatment plants, which According to the American Lung Association’s clean city list, only generate minimal electricity through green energy sources.
9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh has improved significantly in recent years regarding cleanliness, cracking our top nine for good living conditions and infrastructure. Previously known as “the smokey city,” Pittsburgh has not always had the finest air quality owing to industrial pollution. Still, it ranks 31st out of 90 cities in terms of air quality.
10. Portland, Oregon
Portland took the first spot in Travel & Leisure’s 2015 readers’ poll of America’s greenest and cleanest cities. The magazine asked readers to rate places based on eco-friendly amenities such as mass-transit alternatives and eateries that use locally sourced products.
Portland isn’t only hip – it’s also sustainable, thanks to vegetarian food truck meals and thrift stores.
11. Seattle, Washington
With almost 500 parks, it’s easy to understand why Seattle is frequently ranked high on lists of the greenest cities. There’s an urban paradise around every corner, from the marshes and hiking paths of Golden Gardens to the serenity of Kubota Garden, which mixes Japanese style and Northwestern horticulture.
Seattle was the first city in America to develop a carbon-neutral electric utility and be certified as a 5-STAR Community for its contributions to sustainability.
12. Denver, Colorado
Siemens rated Denver sixth in its U.S. and Canadian Green Cities Index. The Mile-High City contributes to the environment in various ways, from prioritizing brownfield cleanup projects to encouraging the use of electric vehicles and alternative fuel sources. Denver has also been a leader in the implementation of climate-change initiatives.
13. Austin, Texas
According to ListShack, Austin is the greenest city in the United States, based on statistics on eco-friendly amenities such as bike lanes and farmers’ markets.
The Barton Creek Greenbelt belongs to the well-known parks in hipster Mecca, with over 13 miles of paths. Another major factor in Austin’s rise on the greenest cities list is its use of solar panels. The city offers incentives to homes and businesses that install them, making it one of the leaders in renewable energy.
14. Long Beach, California
Long Beach, California, is ranked as the cleanest city in the United States. The city is a popular destination for families looking to settle down. This city attracts people looking for nature, including walkers and runners. The city has recently become a hotspot with its world-class graffiti art.
Long Beach also receives a good rating for ‘general waste disposal satisfaction, E.V. market share, and ‘restaurant cleanliness.’
15. San Francisco, California
San Francisco was rated the greenest city in the United States and Canada by Siemens in 2011 by the Green City Index. From a law requiring residents and businesses to separate recycling and compostable materials from regular trash to a widespread commitment to solar energy (including 60,000 square feet of solar panels on the roof of the San Francisco Convention Center), the Golden City exemplifies how green legislation can contribute to the save the planet.
16. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, which has the country’s oldest subway system, is also one of the most walkable cities in the country. Boston was ranked third on Walk Score’s 2017 list of the best cities for pedestrians, after New York and San Francisco.
Condé Nast Traveler ranked Boston as the second-greenest city in the United States in 2017, highlighting the city’s walkability and proximity to public places such as Boston Common and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
Some towns, such as Burlington and Overland Park, have gone above and beyond by enacting green programs. This creates a community that is more inclined to be aware of changes being made by the government or local authorities. Furthermore, these cities also seem to have significantly lower crime rates than what is typically seen in other areas in the U.S. They have proved to be excellent stewards of the environment.
Are you getting ready for your next trip? Take a look at these sustainable backpacks.