The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
When a website creates a list with the title, "Greenest Cities in America," it's easy to think you know which ones will be included and why.
NerdWallet’s list of these names do contain a couple overlapping municipalities with lists on the top solar cities or the most bike-friendly communities, for example, but it's mostly comprised of cities that deserve far more recognition for their sustainable, environment-focused efforts. California is typically associated with being green, but not under the definition provided by NerdWallet, an informational finance site.
When it comes to the ranking's metrics, which include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's air quality index and a formula for excess fuel consumed per commuter by Texas A&M University's Transportation Institute, there's simply no room for any cities within the nation's most populated state.
However, the country's other regions receive equal representation in the ranking that also considers the amount of parks per 10,000 residents, as well as the percentage of the population that walks, bikes, carpools, takes public transit to work or works from home.
Here's what the site had to say about its top selection, Madison, WI:
"Madison earns the distinction of being the greenest city in the U.S., partly due to the fact that the city is literally “green”—its 12.7 parks per 10,000 residents is the highest mark of all cities in the country. The Madison area is home to over 15,000 acres of lakes and more than 200 miles of biking and hiking trails. In fact, the city boasts more bikes than cars, which no doubt contributes to the area’s great air quality."
Aside from NerdWallet's four major measurables, it seemed to also give the nod to cities with environmentally friendly programs that help to guide the path to sustainability. For example, No. 4 Rochester, N.Y. has established its Project Green, which promises that more than three dozen city blocks will be converted into a “green infrastructure” of open space for community gardens, urban farms, parks and renewable-energy facilities. Additionally, the Rochester Institute of Technology's Golisano Institute of Sustainability provides sustainable production, energy and eco-friendly information technology educational programs.
Cincinnati, OH's standing as the largest city to provide 100-percent renewable energy for its residents in 2012 only added to the 10.9 parks-per-10,000-residents ratio that landed it in the top 10. New Orleans was also noted for its efforts to not just rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina, but in a green fashion, with more than 2,000 acres of parks and LifeCity, an organization dedicated to supporting businesses with environmentally responsible practices.
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Ethics investigations have been opened into the conduct of senior Trump appointees at the nation's top environmental agencies.
The two investigations focus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and six high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), The Hill reported Tuesday. Both of them involve the officials' former clients or employers.
"This is demonstrative of the failures at the very top of this administration to set an ethical tone," Campaign Legal Center Ethics Counsel Delaney Marsco told The Washington Post of the DOI investigation. "When people come to work for government, they're supposed to work on behalf of the public. It's a betrayal of the public trust when senior political appointees seem to give privileged access to their former employers or former clients."
By Dipika Kadaba
We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.
By Wenonah Hauter
Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.
Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.