The Greenest States in America, Ranked

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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]

Oregon Launches the Country's First State-Wide Refillable Beer Bottle Program

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iStock

Being a frequent beer drinker doesn't just affect your waistline. It's also not good for the environment—all those cans and bottles add up. But Oregonians soon won't have to feel guilty for the bottles piling up in their trash cans, because the state just launched the first state-wide refillable beer bottle program in the U.S., as NPR and EarthFix report.

Oregon breweries are selling their beer in thicker, heavier beer bottles that customers can return to be cleaned and refilled, just like the milk bottles of yore. Seven craft breweries whose beers are available in stores across the state are currently participating in the refillable bottle program, but the distinct bottles can be used and refilled at any brewery in the state, and the program will likely expand in the coming years.

The bottles, stamped with the word "refillable," are made from recycled glass and can be reused up to 40 times. The design was developed by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, and customers can drop them off at any of the group's 21 redemption centers. The organization also runs the state's general container deposit-refund system, so customers can bring them to the same locations as any other recyclables.

The thicker shape allows them to be separated out from other recyclables that get dropped off at bottle deposit sites, ensuring that they get sorted out to be refilled rather than recycled with standard glass bottles.

Oregon passed the first state bottle bill in the nation in 1971 as a way to encourage recycling. In 2018, the state increased the bottle deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents, hoping to increase redemptions. About 73 percent of metal, glass, and plastic recyclables were actually redeemed in 2017, up from 64 percent in 2016.

While refillable beverage containers aren't the norm in the U.S., other countries are far ahead of us. Some provinces in Canada have nearly a 99 percent return rate for their refillable bottles, and the average bottle is reused 15 times. Most beer in Germany is sold in mehrweg, or reusable, bottles, and consumers can return them to any store that sells reusable-bottle beer to get their deposit back.

Though the Oregon program is an environmental boon, the carbon savings won't be as high as they could be. Oregon doesn't yet have a bottle washing facility to process the refillables, so they currently have to be shipped to Montana for washing. Eventually, the program will set up some of these washing facilities in-state, increasing its utility.

[h/t NPR]

You Can Visit Any National Park For Free This Saturday

Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images

Looking for something to do this weekend? Within driving distance of one of the country's more than 400 national parks? The timing might work out. On Saturday, September 22, the National Park Service will be celebrating National Public Lands Day by offering free admission to any national park that normally charges an entrance fee.

Established in 1994 by the National Environmental Education Foundation, National Public Lands Day is held annually on the fourth Saturday in September. The day is set aside to recognize and encourage stewardship of green space in individual communities. If you see an opportunity to volunteer that day, you can get a voucher good for admission on a day of your choosing.

Admission to federally owned parks during peak season averages $30 at the 117 locations that require payment for access. Recently, the National Park Service had considered raising the fee to $70 at 17 of the busiest parks. The potential move would help address maintenance and other costs, but it's drawn criticism from conservation groups arguing the locations should remain affordable to visitors. In the end, the NPS decided to raise prices by $5 for one-time entry, or $5 to $10 for an annual pass, though some fees won't rise until 2020.

You can search for parks by state or by activity using the National Park Service Find a Park search engine here. Note that any additional charges for camping or other attractions aren't included in the promotion.

Can't make it this weekend? The parks are open for a fee-free day four times in 2018, down from 10 in 2017. The next date is November 11, in honor of Veterans Day.

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