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New Ranking of the Greenest Cities in the U.S. Throws Shade at Coastal Hotspots

In the wake of NYC's plastic straw ban, we asked New Yorkers what else they thought we could do away with. “Facial products with microbeads," said one local. "The paper Chinese menus," said another. In the age of information overload, it can be difficult to establish our environmental priorities both individually and city-wide. What could feel like a "green" city (vocal vegans, green juice at bodegas) might rank low in overall sustainability. 

Thankfully, career expert website Zippia aimed to standardize sustainability, with a recent ranking of the greenest cities in the US. The company measured 99 cities on five different factors: walkability, car ownership, commute length, tons of waste per person, and parkland per 1,000 people. And it turns out, the city where you took your first wheatgrass shot is probably not in the top 10. Here's what we're actually looking at: 

The top 10 greenest cities in the US: 
1. St. Paul, Minnesota
2. Honolulu, Hawaii
3. St. Louis, Missouri
4. Madison, Wisconsin
5. San Diego, California
6. Scottsdale, Arizona
7. Anchorage, Alaska
8. Buffalo, New York
9. Orlando, Florida
10. St. Petersburg, Florida

Sure, NYC -- in all of its smoke and gummy concrete glory --i s a pretty obvious risk to the environment... but no Seattle? No Portland? They rank 30th and 18th, respectively. It's surprising, but let's dissect this a little bit before we smack our keys in the comments. 

No. 1, St. Paul: According to Zippia, Minnesotans have an exceptionally brief commute time on average, but even more interestingly, they are "some of the least wasteful people in the United States" with only "12 tons of waste per person." St. Louis and Orlando earned their crowns for a similar reason, as well as for ample green space and walkability. You can check out the full list of 99 cities on Zippia's website, but most of the top-ranking cities are killing it in at least three of the five categories. 

If you're still fuming, remember that, while artificial borders exist, we all share the same Earth... and the same need for a paycheck. So please don't yell at me for writing this. 

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer for Thrillist.