Did you know that large cities consume about two-thirds of the world’s energy and are a huge contributor to CO2 emissions? The world is getting more urbanized as people keep moving into large cities. Population density is growing, pollution levels are rising and infrastructure is getting overburdened. We do not mean only traffic. Waste disposal and water sanitation is under pressure, as well.

While there is no doubt that big cities are the source of economic growth, it’s great that there are cities in the world that decided to go the more sustainable route and are transforming to be more green than ever. But how can a huge city become green?

Let’s get inspired by some of the world’s greenest cities and what they are doing to set themselves apart.


Reducing waste is always a best practice. To do their part, San Francisco lawmakers banned straws and plastic utensils in mid-2019, and 80 percent of its waste is being recycled, composted or reused. These efforts make the Golden City the most waste-conscioius city in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Slovenian city of Ljubljana is committed to the zero-waste goal and is already making huge steps with its modern waste management system. Vancouver, Canada, is going the same way with the goal of being zero-waste by 2040. And Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, sends only 2 percent of its waste to landfills, the rest is recycled or converted to energy.


Copenhagen also made a commitment to be the world’s first capital city to be carbon neutral by 2025.

When it comes to energy, we have to mention Reykjavik in Iceland. The Island’s capital city’s energy needs are mostly covered by harvesting geothermal power, thus making it fully renewable.


It’s a well-known fact that fossil-fueled transportation is a huge no-no for the environment. That’s why sustainable cities turn to better options, such as car-sharing and electric scooter rentals in Bengaluru, India, and in huge pedestrianized areas like the city center of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Meanwhile, cycle routes, solar boats, and electric buses are common in Copenhagen. And car charging points, electric bikes, scooters, and moped sharing can all be found in Lisbon, Portugal. Find out more in which cities you can live without a car.


No city can be “green” without actually being green, right? No wonder Portland, Oregon, with its smart city planning, loads of city parks, and even urban forests, is one of the greenest cities in the U.S.

And have you heard about Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay? This large botanical garden is an example of how to be green in a hypermodern city.

Vancouver also shows a way to add more greenery into a city with its Public Library. The library features a green roof that has thermoregulatory, as well as water management properties. If that’s not enough, it also provides a home for bees.

Zero-waste restaurants and businesses

While it might not be exactly in the city planning, more and more zero-waste businesses are popping up around the world, and the greener the city, the more you can find there. Zero-waste restaurants or hotels, thrift shops, and tool libraries are just a few examples of businesses that eco-savvy citizens are seeking out.

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