We think of Seattle as the center for green living, but other cities seem to be surpassing Seattle in the race to be green. Malia Jacobson of ParentMap talks about growing up green in Seattle.
Is Seattle as green as we think?
Seattle leads the nation in hydropower and recycling. Over 50 percent of Seattle’s waste is either composted or recycled. Many schools have recycling and composting programs. Seattle is reducing emissions and on track to meet its goal of emissions at 7 percent below 1990 levels.
Seattle City Light is the nation’s first carbon-neutral utility and Seattle frequently ranks near the top of “green cities” rankings.
Sightline Institute, a sustainability think-tank, ranked Seattle second in its ranking of green cities. SustainLane, a sustainability living guide, ranked Seattle third.
Are there areas where Seattle is falling short?
Other cities are surpassing Seattle in key metrics like walkability and emissions per capita.
Cars and trucks create 40 percent of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions, so becoming more walkable is a critical way to reduce carbon emissions.
Seattle-based Walkscore calculates the walkability of major cities. In its latest ranking of 50 major cities, Seattle came up sixth behind New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
Seattle’s emissions per capita are only a little lower than the national average, whereas cities like New York are far lower.
How is the green movement impacting our schools?
Going green has never been more important for our schools. In an era of tight budgets, energy conservation can translate into big savings for school districts.
Green initiatives are also about student health. Asthma rates are climbing. Ten percent of children now have asthma and we know indoor air quality impacts asthma and absenteeism.
Washington Green Schools is a non-profit providing teacher training, rewards, and resources to help schools reduce waste, save energy, and create healthier classrooms.
Washington Green Schools works with 200 schools across the state and 68 in King County. Participating schools save about $5,000 per year on average.
How can families go green?
- Mind The Triple Bottom Line
Green businesses have a triple bottom line of people, planets, and profits. For families, the triple bottom line is people, planet, and pocketbook. If something is good for your health and saves money, like driving less or eating more vegetables, it’s probably good for the planet too.
- Green Your Plate
One of the biggest steps to a greener lifestyle is eating less meat. The production of red meat creates four times the emissions of chicken and thirteen-times that of plant-based foods. Choose meatless meals one day per week.
- Think Beyond the Bag
Reusable shopping bags are great, but it’s what you put in the bag that counts. Choose more plant-based foods, foods in season and locally-produced foods when it makes sense.
- Get Kids on Board
Make conserving a family affair. Create a family energy savings goal with a tangible outcome. Pledge to spend the savings on a fun outing or trip. Above all, make it fun. When kids see that protecting the environment can be rewarding, they’ll get excited about going green.