We constantly hear about how the world is becoming more polluted every day. The oceans, rivers, and even the air we breathe are getting contaminated at a staggering rate. The more we continue to pollute these natural resources, the more it becomes hazardous for our well-being in this world.
Unfortunately, this state of decay isn’t just restricted to any one particular country or a state. We are on the top of a global crisis that will soon render our lands inhabitable if we don’t take effective measures quickly.
To help you understand the gravity of the matter, let us look at some worldwide data on pollution.
- People who live in a polluted area likely to be 20% more prone to lung cancer
- 40% of America’s waterbodies are unfit for swimming, fishing or sustaining aquatic life because of increased rates of water pollution.
- Breathing the air in Beijing, China is equivalent to smoking 21 cigarettes a day
- Half of China's population does not have access to clean water
- Close to a 1000 children in India die every day due to extreme water pollution
- Around 50,000 deaths are caused every year in the US due to air pollution
The data sure seems frightening, isn’t it? However, we can’t lose hope just yet, because, in these times of drastic change, some cities in the world are fighting back, and they are winning!
They are setting an example for us to follow where we can do our part to reverse the damages we have done to our mother nature.
The solution comes in the form of environmentally-friendly cities. Eco-friendly cities follow a very specific code of conduct.
In general, an eco-friendly city goes by a few names such as a green city or eco-city. Although they differ in nomenclature, the form and function remain almost the same.
The eco-city or a green city pours effort into eliminating the overall carbon footprint of the city whilst embracing nature and investing in an eco-friendly project that helps the humans and the nature to coexist aiming towards sustenance and sustainability.
There are certain practices that need to be followed strictly to achieve such a goal. The primary being able to find alternative sources of energy rather than depending on fossil fuels.
In the development of such a green city, the efforts are shared between the government and the citizens alike. The result is a city that is modern and also environmentally-friendly.
The idea of building a city that houses modern tech while being kind to nature is not a utopian vision. There are cities all over the world that are doing it now, and results speak for themselves.
The overall happiness and contentment among the citizens are higher, and the health benefits follow. Simply put, these cities become places where you would want to spend your entire lives.
Let us review some of the most eco-friendly cities that have proven to stay strong and have set an example for the rest of the world to follow.
1. Copenhagen, Denmark: Europe’s Most Sustainable City
The first spot in our list goes to Copenhagen without question, and there are several reasons why it does so. Copenhagen is hailed as “Europe’s Green Capital,” and it keeps this title due to a considerable amount of care it gives in developing a state that doesn’t hurt nature.
It is also a place where the total number of bikes outnumbers the total number of cars. The benefits of this are twofold, as the city can cut down on carbon emissions and the average health rate will be higher.
The determination to be the absolute best flows through Copenhagen as the city aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by the year 2025. Here are some of the initiatives by Copenhagen to be the most eco-friendly city in the world;
- Biking has become part of their culture
- From 2010, Copenhagen has been integrating green roofs into their infrastructure
- By the end of 2019, all buses (Public transport) in Copenhagen will make the shift to electric engines
- The initiative by the Municipality of Copenhagen to plant 100000 new trees by the end of 2025
- Upholds one of the world’s stringiest quality assurance test for clean tap water on a daily basis
- An array of advanced wind farms
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands: The City of Bikes
Amsterdam is a perfect combination of the new and the old. The city contains more bikes than people, and if you are not a fan of cycling, then you can use electric vehicles as a solution with over 300 charging stations spread across the city.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as Amsterdam has more to show on why it is truly a marvel in 2018.
Amsterdam makes sure that local farmers are cared for so that the population within the city can enjoy the homegrown organic food. The city is also an ardent supporter of cycling, and you see a major percentage of the population using bicycles to get to work or schools.
You can also find citizens of the city using clothes made from eco-friendly materials. They also make sure that the manufacturing processes do not use any poisonous dyes or agents that could contaminate water.
3. Stockholm, Sweden: The Cleanest City in Europe
Stockholm is one of the most eco-friendly cities in the EU. It was the first EU city that won the European Green Capital Award in 2010.
The city aims to be completely fossil fuel free by 2050. Stockholm already has a well-laid system that keeps it running without using massive fossil fuel reserves.
At present, Stockholm has bio-fuel conversion plants that take sewage to produce biofuel from them. These advancements are all a part of Stockholm’s Grow Smarter Project.
The head of the Grow Smarter Project, Gustaf Landahl quotes “One hundred people going to the toilet powers one car, but if we add organic household waste, that goes down to 60 people."
Another smart move by the city is a project that will make use of waste heat produced by datacenters, shops, and stadiums to be used for providing heating to the residents of Stockholm. The city of Sweden is also one of the cleanest city in EU.
4. Vancouver, Canada: A City with Lowest Carbon Emissions
Vancouver gets straight to the point by having the least amount of carbon emissions among the major cities of North America. The city has worked very hard to reach the position it is in now, and the efforts started pretty early. In 2010, the city began supporting cyclists and went on to build separate lanes for them.
The city is also actively increasing the number of charging ports to encourage people to use electric vehicles instead of gas-guzzling alternatives. Vancouver also makes a case for farmers as the Farmer’s Market all around Vancouver makes sure that you eat healthy food.
There are several waste management projects that have started in Vancouver to further make the city free from wastes and all sorts of contamination. With the formation of the Green City Action Team (GCAT), the government hopes to make Vancouver the greenest city by 2020.
5. Curitiba, Brazil: A City Utilizing the Power of Recycling
Many of us might be unfamiliar with this sustainable city located in Brazil. Curitiba is proudly called as the Green Capital of Brazil. The city recycles 70% of its waste to reusable energy or products.
This eco-friendly city has a robust public transportation system that helps commuters to go around the city without depending on their personal vehicles. Curitiba also gives utmost priority to urban planning.
It helps the city not to have buildings crammed at every corner. The city of Curitiba has 14 forests and 16 parks in the urban area.
To keep the city clean, Curitiba employs an incentive program that exchanges recyclables and exchangeable items with buys tokens, snacks, sweet and cash. It instills a drive in people to keep the city clean.
This initiative alone feeds 7000 citizens who are living in poor conditions.
6. Reykjavik, Iceland: A City Aiming to Move Away from Fossil Fuels
The largest city in Iceland is the best green city in Iceland. There are about 120,000 people living in Iceland, and they are on a mission to fight climate change.
The city aims to be free from the grips of fossil fuels by 2050. The best thing about Reykjavik is that it has vast reserves of power right under their feet.
There are geothermal wells in the Iceland that help to power the city. The geothermal will convert the water into steam, which is then used to generate electricity.
The amazing fact about Reykjavik is that only 0.1% of Iceland’s total electricity is produced from fossil fuels.
7. Portland, Oregon: A City that Teaches the Citizens to Embrace Nature
Portland Oregon is the best example that with a correct planning, any city can become a Green city. In Portland, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability started The Sustainable City Government (SCG) program, which has successfully lowered the city’s dependence on fossil fuels from 1991.
The proof is in the pudding, and we get to see that in 2018, Portland has managed to lower the carbon emission by 17% compared to the value recorded in 2006, take note that it achieved this whilst having a growing population and industry.
According to the recent data, Portlanders recycle 63% of the waste produced by the city. Their culture teaches them how to live green and embrace nature.
The healthy biking community is also growing to help the city to cut emission levels even further.
8. San Francisco, California: The First American City to Ban Plastic Water Bottles
In 2011, the City of San Francisco was named the Greenest City in North America. It was a proud moment for the city, and it has consistently improved itself over the years to become the best in the world.
San Francisco loves framers, and it has helped them to source organic, healthy food for substance. In addition, the city aims to go “waste-free” by the end of 2020. It was the first US city to ban plastic water bottles and make cleanliness a priority.
They are also pioneers in water conservation.
“It’s certainly an honor for San Francisco to be named the ‘greenest’ city in North America, and it’s great to get recognition for the good work San Franciscans have done,” said Mayor Lee. “San Francisco is committed to working toward a greener, healthier future for the City, and I think there’s nowhere else on earth where you will find more environmentally involved residents, businesses, and visitors than in San Francisco.”
9. Singapore: The Greenest City in Asia
Meet the greenest city in Asia! And, it is also on a path to become the greenest in the world!
Singapore brings in a better way of incorporating green into the cities by intertwining architecture and nature. From green roofs to verdant garden, Singapore is acing through all the green city checklists.
Much of the improvement comes from mandating green buildings from 2008. The Garden city in Singapore is a sight to behold, and it gives a clear idea of what it looks like when we couple modern techniques while having nature on board.
Singapore also houses the world’s largest vertical garden called Tree House condominium in Bukit Timah.
10. Cape Town, South Africa: A City Practicing Effective Waste Management Strategies
Cape Town is undoubtedly the greenest city in Africa. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) ranked Cape Town as among the top 5 cities in the world that maintain a conscious to climate change and sustenance.
Cape Town managed to achieve this feat by being effectively managing the wastes produced by the company. Adding to the effort, Cape Town sources 10-20% of its energy from renewable sources.
“In a world of increasing population pressures and depleting natural resources some cities, such as Cape Town, are proactively adjusting their practices today as well as implementing sustainable long-term practices,” said Alex Brigham, executive director of the Ethisphere Institute.
11. Helsinki, Finland: The Nature Capital of the Entire World
Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is shaping up to be one of the greenest city in the world. Again, the emphasis is on putting forward green practices like cycling, and recycling of refuse.
Also, the city is ginning toward developing a sustainable plan that enables carbon free-living conditions. There is an abundance of forest and wildlife that makes the place green in regards to the flora and fauna.
Go Green! That’s the Only Way to Go!
It is indeed noteworthy to see how these cities are shaping the modern way of living. They are the living examples of what we can do if we put our minds into it.
These cities also set an excellent example of how the local government and citizens can work in cohesion to make things happen. Adopting an environmentally-friendly approach in everything we do will not only benefit us, but it will also become fruitful for the coming generations.
We need nature more than it needs us. Let’s do our part in making our city the best for the world.