The Greenest States in America, Ranked

iStock
iStock

Which states are doing their part to save the environment and which ones need to shape up? Financial advisory website WalletHub decided to crunch the numbers and find out. The result is the interactive map below, which ranks the greenest states in America based on 23 metrics across three categories: environmental quality, eco-friendly behaviors (which are, of course, tied to spending), and climate change contributions. Some of the metrics include carbon dioxide emissions and gasoline consumption per capita.

Source: WalletHub

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the greenest state based on overall rank is Vermont, which lived up to the "green" in its Green Mountain State nickname, with a score of 75.48. Oregon comes in at number two (74.23) with Massachusetts holding third place (72.63). Coming in last place, with a score of only 25.08, is West Virginia. So, what's separating the green states and the not-so-green states? Recycling.

One of the most dramatic differences between the two groups is percentage of recycled municipal waste (Maine scored highest in this area, while Louisiana came in last). Air quality was yet another big factor, with Wyoming coming out on top and California in last place (though it ranked number 9 overall, so they're clearly doing lots of other things right). Soil quality, most LEED-certified buildings, and energy and gasoline consumption were also among the factors considered.

So just where did your state land in the overall list? See below for the full ranking, and visit WalletHub to find further insights on how the list was calculated.

50. West Virginia
49. Louisiana
48. Kentucky
47. North Dakota
46. Alabama
45. Wyoming
44. Oklahoma
43. Texas
42. Indiana
41. Arkansas
40. Mississippi
39. Utah
38. Kansas
37. Ohio
36. Alaska
35. Virginia
34. Florida
33. Montana
32. Nebraska
31. Iowa
30. New Mexico
29. South Carolina
28. Arizona
27. Missouri
26. Illinois
25. Pennsylvania
24. Georgia
23. Tennessee
22. North Carolina
21. Colorado
20. Michigan
19. Delaware
18. Maryland
17. Washington
16. Hawaii
15. Idaho
14. Wisconsin
13. New Jersey
12. Nevada
11. Maine
10. Rhode Island
9. California
8. New Hampshire
7. Connecticut
6. Minnesota
5. South Dakota
4. New York
3. Massachusetts
2. Oregon
1. Vermont

[h/t WalletHub]

A Free Cup Share Program Is Coming to Coffee Shops in Boulder, Colorado

iStock.com/fotostorm
iStock.com/fotostorm

Paper coffee cups are wasteful, taking decades to break down in a landfill after they're used for just a small part of someone's morning. But they're also irresistibly convenient to many. A new startup called Vessel Works is aiming to tackle the waste problem at coffee shops by applying the convenience of disposable to-go cups to reusable mugs, Fast Company reports.

The program, which is launching in four Boulder, Colorado cafes, takes the pressure off of customers to provide their own reusable cups. Instead, they can download an app and use it to check out an insulated, stainless steel mug free of charge. Throughout the day, the app updates them on ways their choice has made a difference, including how much waste they've prevented, how much water they've conserved, and how much they've reduced their carbon footprint. When they're done with the drink, users have five days to return their mug to a Vessel kiosk; from there it will be cleaned in one of the startup's facilities and returned to a cafe where the cycle will start all over again.

Vessel isn't the first company to attempt to bring reusable cups into the sharing economy. In 2016, coffee shops in Hamburg, Germany adopted a program where customers could acquire a mug for a small deposit and return it to a participating cafe to get their money back. Vessel Works's program differs in that users are never asked to pay unless they fail to return their cups on time (in that case, they'll be charged a fee).

Vessel is currently working with Boxcar Coffee Roasters and Trident Booksellers and Cafe in Boulder, and is coming soon to Seeds Library Cafe at the Boulder Public Library and the Pekoe Sip House at the University of Colorado. The startup hopes to eventually expand to more cafes and install dropoff kiosks at more convenient locations like transit stops.

[h/t Fast Company]

This Live Stream Lets You Eavesdrop on Endangered Killer Whales' Conversations

iStock.com/Serega
iStock.com/Serega

Southern resident killer whales, which are usually found off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia, are an endangered species. If you're lucky, though, you might be able to hear a pod of the killer whales chattering away from the comfort of your own home. A website spotted by The Kansas City Star lets you live stream the calls of killer whales from your phone or laptop. Dubbed Orcasound, it uses hydrophones (underwater microphones) to pick up oceanic sounds from two areas off the coast of Washington.

On the website, listeners can choose between the two locations. One is the Orcasound Lab in Haro Strait, which is situated off the coast of Washington's San Juan Islands—the "summertime habitat" of this specific ecotype of whale, according to the website. The other location is Bush Point at the entrance to Puget Sound, where the whales pass through about once a month in search of salmon. However, that hydrophone is currently being repaired.

So what do orcas sound like? They're loud, and they do a whole lot of whistling, whining, and clicking. You can hear a snippet of what that sounds like in a four-minute podcast uploaded to the Orcasound site.

There’s no guarantee you’ll hear an orca, though. "Mostly you'll hear ships," the website notes, but there's also a chance you'll hear humpbacks in the fall and male harbor seals in the summer.

The live stream isn't just for educational purposes. It also serves as a citizen science project to help researchers continue their studies of southern resident killer whales, which are in danger of starvation as Chinook salmon, their main food source, die off.

The makers of Orcasound are urging listeners to email ihearsomething@orcasound.net anytime they hear killer whales or "other interesting sounds." They can also log their observations in a shared Google spreadsheet. Eventually, developers of the site hope to roll out a button that listeners can click when they hear a whale, to make the process easier for people to get involved.

[h/t The Kansas City Star]

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