In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we thought it would be fun to highlight some of the most green cities in the world.
But what exactly does "most green cities" mean, anyway?
These eco friendly cities are leading the way in terms of "green-ness," pioneering innovative environmental programs and encouraging residents to live more sustainably overall.
The green cities on our list take it a step further, though, and actually give their residents the resources and tools to implement more sustainable practices into their daily lives.
That may mean widespread recycling and composting programs, lots of parks and open green space, an abundance of pedestrian paths and bicycle lanes to encourage people to get outside, or local farmers' markets — or in some cases, all of the above.
"The Earth is what we all have in common." - Wendell Berry, author
The Most Green Cities on Earth
Europe is the unquestionable world leader when it comes to having the most green cities, but there are a few eco friendly metropolises that may just surprise you.
1. Stockholm, Sweden
Fun fact about Stockholm: extremely unique among major cities, it's actually an archipelago of 14 islands!
Because of this, residents largely commute to work via a ferry system. That alone makes Stockholm stand out as one of the most green cities in the world!
The city comes by its eco-friendliness honestly. Back in 1967, Sweden was the first country in the entire world to implement an environmental protection act.
Today, nearly 100% of Stockholm's energy supply comes from renewable sources and a whopping 99% of solid waste is recycled.
So what's next for one of the world's most green cities? Going 100% fossil-free. The capital city has its sights set on that goal by 2040.
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen has long been regarded as one of the most green cities in the world, and perhaps the most green major city.
The ambitious city has pledged to become the world's first carbon-neutral capital by 2025 — and it appears they'll succeed.
To begin with, there's the elaborate cycling infrastructure. Copenhagen has dedicated cycling-only bridges and even members of the Parliament make their daily commute on two wheels!
Aside from that, Copenhagen also has something ultra-unique that cements its status as one of the world's most green cities: CopenHill.
Built on top of a renewable waste management plant, Copenhill is a massive artificial ski and snowboard slope (one of the longest in the world, in fact). There's even an apres-ski bar onsite — eco-friendly, naturally.
Not a fan of snow sports? Copenhill has you covered with a green space for hikers and the world's highest climbing wall at the top!
3. Vienna, Austria
What ranks Vienna among the most green cities in the world? For starters, this capital city is the poster child of successful long-term, strategic city planning.
Over half the city is comprised of green areas, an elaborate network of community parks, greenbelts, and walking paths. A section of pristine Donau-Auen National Park also lies within Vienna city limits.
About 30% of Vienna's energy consumption comes from renewable sources, and half its population - half! - uses public transportation on a daily basis.
4. Sao Paulo, Brazil
With a population of over 21 million people, the "megacity" of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is the world's fourth-largest city. Amazingly, it's also one of our planet's most green cities.
For decades, trash and pollution were major environmental concerns in the city. But in 2009, Sao Paulo enacted the Municipal Policy for Climate Change, an initiative that substantially reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Fast forward a little more than a decade and today, Sao Paulo is one of the world's biggest consumers of renewable energy.
The city has also pioneered sustainable building practices, and there are currently over 1,000 LEED-certified construction projects underway, including retrofitting existing buildings. A public bicycle-sharing program introduced in 2014 has also tremendously helped the city's air quality.
5. Munich, Germany
Many people associate Germany solely with beer and finely-crafted vehicles, but in fact, the country is notoriously one of the greenest on the planet.
Munich, in particular, is one of the country's (and arguably, the world's) most green cities, on track to have a 100% clean, renewable energy supply by 2025. The city is currently at about 90%. Assuming that Munich achieves this goal, it will become the first city with over 1 million residents to do so.
To reach its lofty clean energy goal, the city of Munich uses primarily grassroots efforts.
Sheep graze in Munich's largest city park, English Garden, which in turn provides natural fertilizer. Green City, an organization established in 1990, heads up all sorts of green initiatives including "Traveling Trees," a call-to-action for people to plant more of them, and "Bus With Feet," a program that enlists parents to volunteer to walk groups of children to neighborhood schools.
6. Washington, DC
Last but certainly not least is Washington, DC. Admittedly, the United States as a whole is nowhere near many other countries, particularly in Europe, when it comes to sustainability. However, Washington, DC, ranks among the most green cities in the U.S.
The Clean Energy DC Act is "one of the country's most aggressive and impactful clean energy actions," aiming to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions by half and converting to 100% renewable energy by 2032.
DC was also named the world's first-ever LEED Platinum City by the U.S. Green Building Council and it has more LEED-certified buildings than any other city in the country.
Even cooler (err, greener), the Washington Nationals baseball stadium is the first LEED Silver-certified ballpark in America!
Anyone else feeling green with envy over all these beautiful, most eco friendly cities?!
It's always a great idea to visit one (or all six!) to get some inspiration and ideas about how you may be able to implement green initiatives in your hometown.
And whether you've been to several of the world's most green cities, there's one or two on your bucket list, or you're just looking for a bit more sustainability inspo, check out The Wander Club's City Tokens and Token Holders, including a few vegan leather options!