Many urban areas contribute to waste and pollution simply because of their industrial infrastructures and overwhelming populations. The time has come to turn that around. Cities throughout the world are doing just that by taking part in the “green cities movement.”
The purpose of this movement is to focus on sustainability and strive to lessen their environmental impact. Participating cities are vowing to change their ways in order to reduce waste and emissions, and increase recycling and housing density. By expanding open space and starting local sustainable businesses, these cities are taking the necessary steps to creating a greener world.
A great example of a green city is Curitiba, Brazil. In 1972, Jaime Lerner, then architect and mayor of Curitiba, closed off six blocks of a central business district to cars. Today, that zone is three times larger and is a huge metropolis in Brazil. Lerner also implemented a new bus system that greatly reduces traffic, energy usage and pollution. This system resulted in even more open space that would have otherwise been industrialized.
Another example is Reykjavik, Iceland, which currently has hydrogen-powered buses and uses geothermal energy and hydropower to provide heat and electricity to the city. Cities like London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Barcelona, Bogota and Bangkok, and other cities in Sweden, Ecuador and Uganda have been praised for their similar efforts.
The United States has also begun stepping up and contributing to the movement. Portland became the first U.S. city to meet carbon dioxide reduction goals set by Kyoto Protocol — an international agreement aimed at reducing the threat of global warming. Seattle is among the 591 U.S. cities to do the same. San Francisco has greatly reduced its plastic usage while Austin is a world leader in solar equipment. Chicago invested hundreds of millions of dollars to renovate its parks, build eco-friendly buildings in various neighborhoods and provide clean power to low-income families.
New York City has extremely dense housing while its citizens are heavily reliant on mass transit as well as using their own two feet for travel. This shows just how green the Big Apple really is.
Slowly but surely, the “green city movement” is making its impact. Groups like Green Cities Events hold conferences around the U.S. where policy makers and business leaders discuss ways to make their community “greener.” This type of assemblage is exactly what we need to do. If groups around the world came together to just make their own area greener, it would have a positive effect on the entire world around us and eventually everyone would be doing his or her part to create a “greener” world.
We need to follow the lead of these proactive cities and vow to change our bad habits for the greater good. We need to make an impact, and it can start here and now with you.
– Jillian Spratt