From Amsterdam to Seattle, the world’s most ambitiously eco-friendly cities are stepping up to make the planet a healthier and happier place to call home. Accessible parks, bike lanes, vertical gardens, and green roofs are just some of the many ways green-minded cities are making eco-conscious living a top priority.
So no matter where you find yourself on a map, let these eight cities inspire you to live more mindfully of Mother Earth.
8 eco-friendly cities
When it comes to eco-friendly transportation, Amsterdam is hard to beat. Known for having more bikes than people, Amsterdam cuts its carbon footprint by creating tons of accessible cycling paths, which include cycle highways and even air bike pumps along the way. Also, the relatively small size of the city in combination with the gorgeous canals makes it easy and enjoyable to travel by foot.
For those who prefer to get around behind a steering wheel, Amsterdam also has more than 300 electric car charging stations sprinkled throughout the city.
Like Amsterdam, Copenhagen is home to one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. The harbor water is notoriously clean, lush parks are everywhere, and sustainable urban development is thriving. And if you notice lots of green roofs that’s because Copenhagen mandated every new building incorporate a green roof in some capacity.
Also, organic food is more of a norm than a rarity with about 24 percent of the food sales in Copenhagen being organic. Even better? 88 percent of the food consumption in the city’s public institutions, such as daycares and nursing homes is organic.
While Singapore is densely populated, don’t expect a concrete jungle in this city-state-island-country.
Singapore is a green thumb’s dream come true with more than 80 percent of Singaporeans living within a 10-minute walk of a park. And, fittingly, “The Garden City” requires new buildings to integrate some type of plant life into the design from garden patios to green roofs.
But Singapore doesn’t stop there. In 2008, Singapore made green construction materials mandatory and solar/wind technologies are featured all throughout the city.
Fun fact: Singapore’s Tree House Condominium in Bukit Timah is the world’s largest vertical garden — it measures at almost 25,000 square feet. Add that to the bucket list!
Just like Seattle is all about coffee shops, it’s also bustling with environmentalists and committed nature-lovers.
The “Emerald City” has tons of biking trails, parks, and gorgeous arboretums. Hydroelectricity provides more than 90 percent of the city’s power and composting is more than an option — it’s mandatory within city limits.
Seattle was also one of the first cities to ban plastic straws at cafes and restaurants (insert: round of applause!). Not to mention, farm-to-table restaurants like Cafe Flora are beloved and sustainable efforts can be spotted in everything from eco-friendly furniture stores to earth-conscious pet shops.
P.S. If you’re looking for a bamboo straw, check out our Be The Change Bamboo Straws.
With the least amount of carbon emissions among the major cities of North America, Vancouver is eco-friendly and proud. Bikers will happily find dedicated lanes and electric car drivers will love all of the EV chargers spread throughout the city. Of course, there are tons of vegan eats, farmers markets, and gorgeous parks.
Can’t get enough of Vancouver? Neither can we. Check out our other post: 23 Awesome reasons Vancouver is the perfect plant-based vacation
Stockholm ranks cleanliness high on its agenda with nearly litter-free sidewalks and some of the cleanest air in any big European city. The public transportation is efficient with buses, trams, metros, ferries – you name it. And they have biofuel conversion plants that produce biofuel from sewage.
SF has a lot of “firsts” under its belt. It was the first U.S. city to require all residents and businesses to separate trash from compost and recyclables. Plus, it was ahead of the game with the plastic shopping bag ban. It’s also home to 30 miles of walking trails and lots of public transportation options — some of the buses are even hybrid- electric.
Looking ahead? SF is aiming to be zero waste — meaning recycling, composting, reusing everything, so nothing goes to the landfill. They’re already about 80 percent there!
Bike routes? Check. Wind farms? Check.
Cape Town is not only using innovative technologies to be more sustainable, but the city is also encouraging its residents to adopt more eco-friendly, outdoorsy lifestyles. For example, the My CiTi bus service allows bikes on their buses for free — ideally, making it easier and more desirable to cycle instead of drive.
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