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Sustainable Living in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is the largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, and the fifth largest urban area in the United States. It is also one of the oldest cities in the country, founded in 1682 by William Penn. The city is famous for the historic influence on the country, including being the location for the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Despite being a hub for our nation’s freedom, Philadelphia has also been named as the number one most toxic city in 2011 by Forbes Magazine. The Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Pennsylvania, has more than 50 Superfund sites filled with hazardous waste. The city has also been ranked last in the nation in terms of water quality. The city also has a significant air pollution problem, with local industries releasing large quantities of toxic chemicals into the air.
Recently, the elected officials in Pennsylvania have made it a priority to create sustainable practices and transform Philadelphia from one of the most toxic cities to an environmentally friendly place to live and work. In 2008, the mayor created an office of sustainability in the government to research the city’s environmental problems.
One of the Greenworks Philadelphia initiatives to create a more sustainable city is to expand the number of available farmer’s markets. Currently, the city supports and funds the Annual Mayor’s Farmers Market. This provides the residents of the city with access to locally grown and organic foods. The state extension office also attends the farmer’s market in order to help teach residents about how to cook the food purchased in the farmer’s market.
The city also recently rolled out a new transportation system, including riverfront bike paths. In addition to the bike paths, the metro transit buses have recently been transformed into hybrid buses. These advances have positively impacted the level of air pollution in the city.
Residents of Philadelphia can also take advantage of several programs to encourage recycling. There are multiple street corner recycling bins, allowing residents to recycle while away from home. In addition, Greenworks Philadelphia has also developed a Recycling Rewards program. Residents who take advantage of the program can earn points from home recycling. These points are exchanged for products, coupons, and gift cards available in a catalog sponsored by the city.
The city is also attempting to acquire 500 acres of open green space. This space would provide residents of the city with places to hike, walk, and enjoy low-impact recreational activities. It would also help reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the air, filter out air pollution, and increase the aesthetics in the city.
In 2010, the mayor signed legislation requiring all new construction in the city have reflective roofing materials to deflect the sun’s light and heat. This helps reduce the indoor air temperature, saving energy that would otherwise be used for cooling the buildings. Cooling expenses are reduced by 20 percent with these reflective cool roofs, and the life of the roof is also significantly expanded.
The city has also developed a free and easy initiative for residents. The mayor of Philadelphia discourages residents from collecting and bagging grass clippings from lawn maintenance. Instead, the city government now encourages grass-cycling, which involves leaving cut grass on the lawn. This helps to fertilize the lawn and improve soil quality naturally, while also reducing the carbon footprint caused by transporting the grass clippings to a landfill.
While the city of Philadelphia has a longstanding significant pollution problem, current initiatives have been developed to help reduce the amount of pollution in the city and assist businesses and residents in lowering their carbon footprint. With a plan of 17 major benchmarks, the government of Philadelphia strives to become one of the most environmentally friendly cities within the next couple years.