Clean Up Your Act: Top 5 Greenest U.S. Cities

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Some cities are more ahead of the times than others when it comes to being green and clean. Some are fighting pollution and smog, but the progress is slow. Some towns are strewn with litter. But for the most part, the cities in the United States have made big leaps forward. Hopefully one day we can tell our kids, “A long time ago before you were born there was this thing called smog…” Until then, we have to do our part.

The top five greenest cities in America do a lot more than recycle. Their efforts include smart land use, efficient zoning, reducing waste, saving energy and, yep, recycling. Here are the five winners, according to SmartPlanet.com and Corporate Knights.

5 Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Also one of the fittest and healthiest cities in America, Albuquerque does right by the environment. The city curbs greenhouse gasses, promotes clean living and recycling, and makes the residents aware of what they can do to help, and how they can conserve resources. People here love the outdoors as well, so they do their part to keep it thriving.

4 Denver, Colorado

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Denver and nearby Boulder have always had a reputation as being, let’s say, a Mecca for Grateful Dead lovers. Which, not to stereotype, usually means people who recycle and care about the environment. It’s very outdoorsy – and people who love their hiking trails and bike paths definitely don’t want to see a bunch of trash or breathe a bunch of smog. They keep it clean, environmentally speaking.

3 Seattle, Washington

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Seattle takes its green living seriously, passing measures to make sure the streets and parks stay clean. Like Portland and San Francisco, you’ll see people bringing their own bags to the store and tossing mulch on their compost heap. It might not be as granola as Portland, but this town is doing a great job of conserving energy and trying to curb greenhouse emissions to put a dent in global warming. Other cities should follow their lead.

2 San Francisco, California

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Like Portland, San Francisco usually comes out on top when it comes to a clean lifestyle. It’s a commuter city so fewer cars and more biking, walking, and public transport help keep the city clean. The people are environmentally conscious for the most part, making sure to separate their cans and bottles from their trash and drag our their recycling bins. There are also a growing number of people who have gardens or a plot in one of the many community gardens.

1 Portland, Oregon

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Portland comes out on top for clean living, inside and out. It also tops a lot of “Healthiest City” lists as well. A lot of residents grow their own fruits and vegetables, have home compost heaps, bring their own canvas bags to the store instead of answering “paper” or “plastic,” and they definitely recycle. The city works hard to pass initiatives to keep Portland green and clean, and it’s working. You will not see the smoggy sunsets you see in more polluted cities like Los Angeles or Houston. People bike and walk, they conserve energy, and they make taking care of the planet a part of their daily routine.

Dina Gachman writes about Hollywood and celebrities for Forbes, and covers film for Red Bull USA. She has written for Splitsider, Thought Catalog, and Hello Giggles. Her comic books about Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor are being published by Bluewater Comics.

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