Looking through green colored glasses

Boulder has been ranked one of the greenest cities in America by numerous publications over the past decade.

Even the city’s name conjures up serene mountain scenes and spring green meadows. So, what does a city do to spearhead the national Go Green movement?

1. (il)Legalize it

  • July 1, 2013 marked the first day of Boulder’s Disposable Bag Fee. Shoppers are charged 10 cents per bag, the small fee not meant to be so much as a financial burden as a way to make people conscious of their waste (bonus: some Boulder businesses give the option of donating your bag allowance to a local nonprofit).
  • Colorado state law 12-133 was passed in January 2013, banning electronics from being disposed of in landfills and requiring residents and businesses to take the proper measures to recycle them (bonus: per ton of waste, recycling sustains ten jobs for every one landfill job*). 
  • In the heat of environmental consciousness, Boulder became the first city in the nation to implement a tax to protect their city from massive population growth. The 1967 Greenbelt Amendment included a one-cent sales tax increase to go toward the preservation of Boulder’s natural habitat and prevented future building on Boulder’s Open Space.

2. Make it convenient 

  • Boulder boasts 300 miles of Greenway bike trails that make cycle commuting safe and enjoyable.
  • The Boulder Farmer’s Market occurs every week from April-November (twice a week from May-October). The market makes it easy for Boulderites to support local farmers, eat local foods, and reduce food’s carbon footprint.
  • B-cycle bike sharing allows hassle-free commuting with zero-maintenance. Just purchase a membership online, grab a bike, and park it at any B-cycle station when you’re finished.

3. Bring businesses on board

  • The City of Boulder Parking Services provides annual RTD transit passes for full-time employees in downtown Boulder. The EcoPass is good for unlimited regional, express, local bus and light rail service throughout the Denver and Boulder regions (bonus: tons of Boulder businesses offer discounts to customers who flash their EcoPass).
  • The (free) Boulder County program, PACE, provides businesses with technical assistance meant to improve their energy efficiency, zero waste management, and water conservation. It saves businesses money while helping them be less of a burden on the environment. In collaboration with PACE, The Boulder County Conservation Division encourages businesses to improve green practices by giving $150 toward Zero Waste efforts (those that sign up for new recycling services or commit to new composting services). 

4. Educate

  • Boulder can credit at least part of its progressive nature to being home to Colorado University. CU is ranked among the top “greenest” campuses in the nation. The university offers 14 degree programs, 9 majors, and 4 certificate programs in or related to environmental studies. The campus’s new Kittredge Central and renovated Kittredge West residence halls received LEED gold ratings from the United States Green Building Council. Read more about how CU is achieving its green status. 
  • The list goes on for ways Boulder’s kids are joining the movement from the get-go. The Growing Gardens Children’s Peace Garden and Flagstaff Nature Center are just two of the hundreds of resources focusing on interactive ways that teach children about Boulder’s environment.

5. Love where you live

It’s easy to appreciate the environment when your city has the Rocky Mountain foothills in place of skyscrapers. Boulder’s 45,000 acres of Open Space and Mountain Parks make it nearly impossible not to interact with the city’s natural habitat on a daily basis. Boulder Creek is a summer staple and Boulder Canyon touches downtown, making getting lost in nature all too easy.


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