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As plastic pollution becomes a global environmental priority, governments and political establishments are working towards a greener way of life.

And as responsible travelers, we can show our support for the cities that prioritize responsible living by throwing our tourism dollars behind them, and visiting these destinations over destinations that continue to contribute to the problem.

Cities in USA, Scandinavia and Australia have introduced initiatives to motivate their citizens to start pursuing an environmentally friendly way of life in a sign of independent action against plastic pollution.

In the following article, Waterlogic covers a variety of urban initiatives aiming to overcome global warming. Why not consider your own independent action and install a bottleless water dispenser at home or at work?

Consider the following cities for your next vacation to show you support the fight against plastic pollution.

The Green Cities Leading the Charge Against Plastic Pollution

The Plastic Issue

Plastic beach trash RF

Plastic pollution is now one of the most pressing environmental issues in the world, and a lack of meaningful government action has pushed several global cities to set their own ecological agendas and become “green cities.”

In recent years, local authorities have taken it upon themselves to encourage their own citizens to adopt eco-minded behaviors. They hope to move populations towards an environmentally-friendlier way of life.

It’s a highly beneficial move for all given the advantages of green-city living extend way beyond what you might expect.

Five Benefits of Living in a Green City

Better quality of life: 

Research by The University of Washington shows how urban green spaces encourage people to spend more time outdoors with just 20-minutes in a park sufficient to significantly improve one’s personal wellbeing.

Improved health: 

Not only does green space encourage residents outdoors, but high exposure to natural landscapes for even just a few minutes a day can lower mortality by up to 8% as contact with the outside reduces stress levels and improves mental health.

Better air quality: 

Green cities also encourage people to use cleaner modes of transport like biking, walking and electric transit, as seen in Amsterdam where an abundance of bike lanes encourage 38% of city trips to be made on two wheels.

Moreover, they support new legislation that phases out diesel engines in cars and the polluting heating systems in old buildings – all promoting better air quality.

Lower energy consumption:

LEED-certified buildings (the most-widely used green building rating system in the world) can help reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 34%; not to mention they consume 25% less energy, and 11% less water.

One study suggests that every $1 dollar invested in a greener build quality can save as much as $6 in long-term redevelopment costs.

Higher water quality: 

Careful management of wastewater and industrial byproducts can dramatically improve local water quality.

The Danish government invested in dam systems and groundwater storage reserves that have made its public drinking water cleaner than most bottled brands – that’s without chlorination or other chemical processes, which can lead to a 93% higher chance of developing cancer.

Our Favorite Green Cities

Top 10 things to do in Melbourne

The following cities have grown tired of waiting for their federal governments to introduce green legislation, and realized that independent action has become their only choice.

It has proven an effective way to actively engage in the fight against global warming and help fight the scourge of plastic pollution.

Green Cities in the United States

Portland is a city of 300 parks that play an active role in supplying food and habitats for wildlife, purifying the air, mitigating noise pollution, cooling air temperatures, and reducing runoff.

San Francisco has taken the mantle as the first US city to ban the sale of plastic bottles in city-owned buildings, hoping to curb our addiction the single-use plastics.

Seattle sets the standard when it comes to recycling. The city recycles or composts almost 60% of its waste and aims to increase the rate to 70% by 2022.

Minneapolis is the city of green public transportation: its Green Fleet policy has introduced biodiesel-powered vehicles to ferry around the local population. How does your city compare?

Green Cities Across Europe

Copenhagen Demark RF

Europe boasts the greenest city in the world in Copenhagen. Is it any surprise that Danes are frequently cited as the happiest people in the world?

The Danish municipality aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. Upwards of 50% of citizens cycle to work or school, while its harbor is one of the only city watercourses in Europe that’s clean enough to swim in.

Amsterdam takes the prize for second greenest city in the world thanks to its huge number of pedestrian zones and cycle paths, making these the most popular transport modes with 38% of the population choosing to walk or cycle.

Elsewhere, Sweden wins the title of the third greenest city in the world. However, it’s the Swedish capital’s counterpart, Malmo, that wins plaudits, here. Malmo has set the goal of being powered by 100% renewable electricity by 2020, which is a highly-admirable ambition.

Barcelona’s ecology and urban design initiatives date as far back as 1859 when city developers built what they dubbed a garden-city oasis.

The city continues to inspire urban planners across the world to take an eco-minded approach, a vision highlighted by a creative recycling initiative that uses color-coded bins throughout the city and has since been extended to color-coded bin bags as well, as the Spanish municipality hopes to become zero-waste by 2025.

Cities in Australia

Sydney Habor Bridge at Sunset

As Sydney prepares to declare a climate emergency in the face of national inaction, the local authority has set an ambitious goal to reduce its carbon emissions by 70% by 2030, reaching net-zero by 2050.

It’s an essential move as Australian cities lag their counterparts in the Global Sustainability index with Sydney highest-placed in 34th position.

The Melbourne local authorities reviewed their existing waste and recycling systems with districts like Darebin using 90% recycled content to resurface new roads.

To combat issues with sustainability further, the municipality’s Emissions Reduction plan reinforces a commitment to reach carbon-neutrality by 2020, meaning Melbourne’s net greenhouse gas emissions must be equal to zero by that time.

Our Future Relies on Sustainable Cities

Urban centers produce upwards of 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If we’re going to make a dent in climate change, cities must act firsthand fast.

Greener cities would be a breath of fresh air the whole world desperately needs. It’s time to encourage your local authority to act by attending local meetings and promoting sustainable initiatives or encouraging local offices to adopt greener designs.

If you’re planning your next vacation but haven’t yet decided on where to go – put your tourism dollars towards supporting green cities. Maybe the rest of the world will follow.



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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



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