It’s the 51st anniversary of Earth Day! Since its origin in 1970, Earth Day has grown to reach 190 countries with over 1 billion people mobilizing for change each year!
Over the past half a century, Earth Day has become even more important with each passing year. According to earthday.org “the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more and more apparent every day”.
As a celebration of eco-friendly Earth Day practices, wallethub.com compared all 50 states across “three dimensions: 1) Environmental Quality, 2) Eco-Friendly Behaviors and 3) Climate-Change Contributions”.
You can find more about each of these dimensions at the bottom of the list. With those determining dimensions in mind…
Here are the Top 20 eco-friendly states in the U.S.:
Vermont scored the highest in the entire country in terms of environmental quality and eco-friendly behaviors. Vermont scored as one of the best states for air quality and renewable energy. In 1968, Vermont passed an anti-billboard law in an effort to preserve the natural beauty of the state. If you’re concerned with being eco-friendly, Vermont is the place to be!
#2 New York
Having such a big city as #2 on the list might be surprising to you. In a way, the “big city” actually plays into its favor. New York has the second Lowest Energy Consumption per Capita in the country! Given the amount of public transportation available in the city, New York also has the Lowest Gasoline Consumption (in Gallons) per Capita in the country.
Home to the third most LEED-Certified Buildings in the country, Massachusetts earns its place on our list. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a green building certification program used worldwide. Massachusetts also has some of the strictest standards and highest quality drinking water in the country.
Like Massachusetts, Maryland is also on the LEED-Certified-Building list. Beyond that, Maryland has one of the Lowest Carbon Footprints per Capita in the country. They’ve developed a certification program for municipalities that want to go green. This saves them money and helps sustain their quality of life, and encourages eco-friendly behavior on a community level.
California is home to one of the most sustainable cities in the United States: San Francisco. SF was the first city in the US to ban plastic bags, straws, and utensils. The use of public transit over the use of vehicular transportation is encouraged not only socially but also by the landscape of the city.
Portland, Oregon has been home to a progressive community of people for many years. Since the 1990’s, there have been plans to improve energy and climate change policy, housing, clean energy, and public transport. You’ll find plenty of thrift shops, food truck pop-ups, and vegetation.
Every year since 2010, Minnesota has seen an increase in recycling rates. 2017 marked the highest year the state had ever recorded! If you’d like to learn more about Minnesota’s eco-friendly practices, Do It Green, a sustainability effort group, provides over 800 educational articles on their website specific to the Minnesota community.
Hawaii is second on the list (only to New York) in terms of Lowest Gasoline Consumption (in Gallons) per Capita. They’re top 5 in the Lowest Energy Consumption per Capita and they have an extensive plan to keep improving their sustainability. The Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan is likely to yield them even higher on the list in the next 30 years.
This may be the 3rd smallest state in the country but they are #1 in climate-change contributions. The program “Sustainable Connecticut” has a list of all communities registered in and certified in their sustainability programs. The program ranks each community by gold, silver, or bronze, and requires a certification period while providing a full report about the community results. Talk about being engaged!
The Evergreen State comes in third on the highest % of energy consumption from renewable sources. According to the United States EIA (Energy Information Administration) Washington “generated the most electricity from hydropower of any state and accounted for 24% of the nation’s annual utility-scale hydroelectricity generation”.
#11 Rhode Island
The tiniest state in all of the United States ranks #1 for Lowest Energy Consumption per Capita! Likewise, they’re also on the list for Lowest Gasoline Consumption (in Gallons) per Capita. Their “Office of Sustainability” is tasked with reducing energy consumption, lowering utility costs, and minimizing waste. It seems like they’re doing a good job!
Maine is one of the United States top sources for highest % of energy consumption from renewable sources. More than half of the electricity net generation in Maine comes from hydroelectric dams and wood-based biomass. In fact, most of their in-state electricity came from renewable sources in 2019!
With a city as large as Las Vegas, you’d be curious to know how much effort Nevada puts into sustainability. According once again to the EIA, in 2019, “Nevada ranked second in the nation in electricity generation from geothermal energy and fourth in utility-scale generation from solar energy.”
#14 South Dakota
South Dakota has some of the highest soil quality in the country. High soil quality contains high quality nutrients that plants need to grow! Better fruits, vegetables, and plants that are grown will provide people with more sustainable agriculture. This helps to replenish the land and other natural resources.
#15 New Hampshire
When it comes to air quality, nowhere in the United States is better than New Hampshire! That’s right, New Hampshire ranked #1 in highest air quality. With over 150 million Americans breathing unhealthy air, we could all afford to adopt some of New Hampshire’s air quality regulations and practices.
Like South Dakota, Wisconsin also scores among the highest soil quality in the country. The Wisconsin Environment organization focuses on carbon pricing, electric buildings, offshore wind, and boreal forest conservation.
Colorado ranks #1 in the most LEED-Certified Buildings per Capita in the United States. They’ve also ranked well in water consumption, total capacity of solar energy installed per household, alternative-fuel vehicles, and alternative-fuel stations per Capita.
Home to many different sustainable companies, Michigan boasts a thriving ecosystem. Much like South Dakota and Wisconsin Michigan is also among the highest soil quality in the country.
Ranking in the Top 5 most LEED-Certified Buildings per Capita is no easy feat and Virginia is #4. In 2019, Virginia was awarded the eco-friendly green certification.
Coming in at #5 in the Lowest Gasoline Consumption (in Gallons) per Capita, Pennsylvania is also rich in soil quality. They’ve ranked as high as the 14th most eco-friendly state back to 2015.
In regards to the dimensions evaluated above:
“Environmental Quality” consisted of states:
- Air Quality
- Water Quality
- Soil Quality
- Energy-Efficiency Score
“Eco-Friendly Behaviors” consisted of:
- Green Buildings Per Capita
- Total Capacity of Solar PV Systems Installed Per Household
- Energy Consumption
- Daily Water Consumption
- Green Transportation
- and more
“Climate-Change Contributions” consisted of:
- Carbon-Dioxide Emissions Per Capita
- Methane Emissions Per Capita
- Nitrous-Oxide Emissions Per Capita
- Fluorinated Greenhouse-Gas Emissions Per Capita.
There you have it: The Top 20 Most Eco-Friendly States in the country!
If you want to make a difference on your move day (whether you're moving to one of the most eco-friendly states in the country or not) check out the incredible non-profit Move For Hunger! Move For Hunger will allow you to donate your left over food when you move! It's a great way to minimize waste and contribute to your local community.
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