These Are the 15 Greenest American States Putting the Environment First

Whether or not you believe climate change is real, you should still care about the environment. The foods you eat or the terrible plastic bag laws where you live can have a negative impact on Mother Nature. However, some U.S. states are doing their part to help the environment, according to a WalletHub study. These are the greenest American states putting the environment first.

You probably have an idea of some of the states we’re about to discuss, but keep your eyes open for a complete surprise at No. 4 on the countdown.

15. Idaho

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Idaho is a leader in renewable energy production. | Danamallard51/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 1.71 million

We start our countdown in Idaho, a state that makes the most of its surroundings as it goes green. According to a CNBC report, it gets more than 29% of its energy from renewable sources, exports excess wind farm energy, and has major geothermal energy production.

Next: Even without solar power, it’s environmentally friendly.

14. Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A look at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. | Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Population: 5.79 million

We know Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland, and we know cows aren’t great for the environment, but Wisconsin is still one of the greenest states. How? Well, according to one report, residents are great about conserving water and limiting carbon dioxide emissions. Even though it’s dropping the ball on solar power, Wisconsin is doing what it can to go green.

Next: You probably would never guess this is one of the greenest American states.

13. New Jersey

Tall sailing ships coming into port on the waterfront in Camden, New Jersey along the Delaware River

Tall sailing ships into Camden, New Jersey along the Delaware River | Aneese/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 9 million

The Garden State landed in the middle of the pack for environmental quality in the WalletHub study, but it made up ground elsewhere to be among the greenest states. It’s No. 12 nationally for acting environmentally friendly, and it’s No. 9 for limiting climate change contributions.

Next: Despite its biggest city, this is a very green state.

12. Nevada

Sierra Nevada Mountains

This is the side of Nevada the state is trying to protect. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Population: 2.99 million

Plopping an international entertainment mecca such as Las Vegas in the middle of the desert isn’t very environmentally friendly, but Nevada is still one of the greenest American states. Despite the big city, it’s showing its good side by investing $5.5 billion in renewable energy. It finished in the top 10 in eco-friendly behavior and reducing its climate change contributions in the WalletHub study.

Next: Green in so many ways.

11. Maine

Portland Head Lighthouse in Fort Williams park

Maine does what it can to keep the environment clean and green. | krblokhin/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 1.33 million

Maine is green in so many ways, and not just because it’s one of the places where the political Green Party is so active. Just look at some of its top-five rankings in the WalletHub study:

  • No. 1 for the rate of recycling at 48%, according to Snews.
  • It’s tied for No. 1 for the percentage of renewable energy consumption.
  • Maine is No. 3 for highest water quality.

Next: A small state making a big commitment to going green.

10. Rhode Island

Block Island, Rhode Island

The Mohegan Bluffs of Block Island, Rhode Island. | randydellinger/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 1.05 million

Tiny Rhode Island is doing its part to help the environment. It requires all utility providers to get at least 16% of their power from renewable sources by 2020. That alone makes it one of the greenest American states, but it’s also No. 3 for the least gasoline consumption per capita in the WalletHub study.

Next: It’s doing everything it can to be environmentally friendly.

9. California

Sunset at Venice Beach, California

This is the kind of pristine view California is trying to preserve. | mervas/iStock

Population: 39.5 million

The millions of cars on California’s roads produce a ton of smog, and that hurts the air quality. But the state is doing everything it can to be one of the greenest in America. It banned plastic bags in 2016, it has the most green cars in the U.S. at 7.5%, and most of the biggest cities are solar energy leaders.

Next: It’s easy for residents to live eco-friendly lifestyles.

8. New Hampshire

New Hampshire

Welcome to New Hampshire. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 1.34 million

New Hampshire makes it easy for residents to live eco-friendly lifestyles. It’s tied for first in LEED-certified buildings per capita, and No. 3 for the highest rate of recycling, The Greener Spots website lists green spot cities and businesses, and the citizen-run Environment New Hampshire helps residents actively fight to protect the environment.

Next: Things are changing in this state.

7. Connecticut

Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford,

Legislators at the capital are working to keep Connecticut green. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 3.58 million

The Nutmeg State ranks No. 22 for eco-friendly behaviors in the WalletHub study, but that might change in the future for a few reasons. First, the University of Connecticut is typically among the most eco-friendly colleges on Earth. Also, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has a long list of quality standards. Finally, the state is working toward making carbon-free public transportation a reality.

Next: Businesses are helping make it one of the greenest states.

6. Minnesota


There aren’t many states greener than Minnesota. | AndreyKrav/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 5.57 million

Minnesota is in the top five of the WalletHub rankings for recycling, water quality, and soil quality. It’s No. 1 is the latter two, but those aren’t the only things making it one of the greenest American states. It’s a hub for companies making products from renewable sources, too.

Next: Don’t get it confused with its northern neighbor.

5. South Dakota

Bison graze in Custer State Park n the southern Black Hills of South Dakota.

South Dakota is working to get greener than it already is. | David McNew/Getty Images

Population: 869,666

North Dakota is one of the worst states in the WalletHub rankings, but South Dakota is at the other end of the spectrum. It all starts in Pierre, the state capital that partnered with the EPA to become even more green. As it stands, the state is top five in soil quality, highest renewable energy consumption, and air quality.

Next: This surprising entry on our countdown is the No. 1 state in two key areas.

4. New York

Central Park, New York, New York

New York’s Central Park will remain green for a long time to come. | iStock/Getty Images

Population: 19.8 million

Per the WalletHub study, New York state ranks No. 1 for least gasoline consumption and lowest energy consumption per capita. Those are two reasons it lands in the top five, and there are two more reasons it might finish even higher in the future. New York City is committed to reducing emissions with electric vehicles, and, the state is working to follow in California’s footsteps and ban plastic bags.

Next: Have you sensed a trend yet?

3. Massachusetts

Berkshires, Massachusetts

You couldn’t ask for a more picturesque Massachusetts backdrop. | DenisTangneyJr/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 6.85 million

Have you sensed a trend yet? The states in the northeast, and the states in New England, in particular, are among the greenest American states. The Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is all about protecting the environment, and Massachusetts was the first state to offer green bonds to fund environmentally friendly projects.

Next: The state and its biggest city are very eco-friendly.

2. Oregon

people walking on Cannon Beach

A little glimpse of Oregon’s natural beauty. | NickJKelly/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 4.14 million

Oregon is No. 1 for LEED-certified buildings and renewable energy consumption in the WalletHub rankings, but those aren’t the only reasons it’s one of the greenest American states. Portland is very environmentally conscious, and Oregon gets almost all its energy from renewable sources, according to the Department of Energy.

Next: And No. 1 goes to…

1. Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Vermont is the greenest American state. | DonLand/iStock/Getty Images

Population: 623,657

It seems fitting that a New England state is No. 1 among the greenest American states. After all, we’ve already visited all of Vermont’s neighbors. The state is in WalletHub’s top five for air quality and lowest amount of waste, but being environmentally friendly isn’t anything new. Burlington, Vt., was the No. 1 green city in America way back in 2007.

All population figures are 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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