A wonderful new interactive info graphic called “How Green is My State?” from the Master’s in Public Health online resource details different environmental health aspects of each state. States were measured on transportation, clean energy, recycling, water quality, air quality, gas consumption and carbon emissions. The greenest state overall is Kansas, surprisingly enough. Kansas produces 911 billion BTUs of renewable energy, far past Washington’s number two ranking at 826 billion. However, after clean tech is taken away, Kansas’ rankings are all mediocre. More time on the chart shows a much more complex picture of how states are handling sustainability issues.
The rest of the overall greenest rated states, in order, are Washington, California, Iowa and Oregon. The highest-ranking state in the northeast region is New York at number six. Alabama is the greenest southern state at a number nine ranking. The worst performing region is the southwest, with Arizona as the highest rated state at number 23.
Once the results are separated from overall rankings, which appear to have weighted some factors more than others (although the chart does not reveal which), a much more diverse picture shows. Washington, D.C. has the highest access to mass transit. California is the top recycler, followed by New Jersey. Alaska and Arizona have the best water quality. Air quality was measured in pounds rather than percentages, so small areas like D.C. and Vermont ranked at number one and two, but the Mountain Time corridor (North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado) have high ratings for their size. Drivers in Delaware use the least gas per capita (215.3 gallons a year), and are in the state that releases the least amount of carbon emissions (again measured in pounds rather than a ratio).
While the graph is not perfect, skewing favor to geographically smaller states in the areas of carbon emissions and air quality and larger states in clean energy production, the information is put into a well-organized, interactive tool that can give you a glance at which states are taking waste management and carbon emissions seriously. Where does your state fall and what should it be doing better?