6 Small Cities That Are Surprising the World With Their Green Movements

February 11, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2016

These eco-friendly spots may be off the beaten path, but they’re popping up on people’s radar for their forward-thinking campaigns. From wind farms to paper mills, these small towns are making a big statement in the movement to go green. See why renewable energy and sustainable communities are saving these towns both environmentally and financially.                                                                                                   

1. Langdon, North Dakota

Upolu Point Wind Farm


Image via Flickr by footloosiety 

On the brink of being blown off the map by its fierce winds and a rapidly shrinking population, town leaders came up with a solution to save the town of Langdon. In December 2008, Langdon became a leader in wind turbine power with a $300 million, 106-turbine wind farm; generating enough energy to power 40,000 homes.

2. Grays Harbor, Washington State

Located along the rocky coast, you can find the only paper mill to produce 100 percent recycled paper. The original plant was shut down in 1992, laying off 600 people.

Billy Quigg bought the failed plant soon after, reviving the town and employing more than 200 people at the only plant run completely by biomass fuel derived from logging. The adjacent town of Hoquiam, where many of the workers reside, also hosts one of the nation’s largest biodiesel plants.

Washington also has a range of green hotels in Bellevue, making the city the perfect stop for travelers advocating country-wide sustainability. 

3. Reynolds, Indiana

With a reputation as “BioTown, USA,” Reynolds has taken self-sufficient sustainability to a whole new level. The 2005 venture began with a plan to convert local vehicles to run on ethanol and biodiesel fuels and has now moved to going completely off the grid.

 By using its local resources (cow and pig manure), Reynolds has begun using an anaerobic digester, which converts methane gas into electricity.

4. Madison, Wisconsin

While some of us dread taking the bus, the city of Madison is making it the more appealing option. Around 10% of Madison’s buses are completely hybrid – some even have free Wi-Fi. The company’s administrative and maintenance facilities also boast an impressive 37% Green Power usage, drawing energy from local wind turbines and other sustainable energy resources. 

5. Pinecrest, Florida

Just a short drive from the packed beaches and sprawling metropolis of Miami, a leafy oasis awaits. The town of Pinecrest, Florida was named Tree City, USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Since 1997, residents have planted more than 10,000 street trees. Pinecrest has also taken extensive measures in sustainability and going green in all aspects from business to public transit.

6. Beaverton, Oregon

Although a small town, Beaverton has taken 134,000 cars off the road each year. Well, not literally. They’re the first city to buy 100 percent of its electricity from the PGE Renewable Power Program – the equivalent of avoiding more than 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide pollution.

Beaverton has also been a frontrunner in the Better Buildings Challenge, a program initiated by the Department of Energy to save money and energy with eco-friendly buildings.

These surprisingly green cities are making a comeback by bringing sustainability and renewable resources to the forefront of their communities. And with renewable energy expected to rise to 25% of the global gross consumption by 2018, these towns are leading the way.