Can You Guess the Greenest State in the US?

To protect the environment we have to invest in it — through our own behaviors and the collective actions of our communities. In a new study, WalletHub aimed to highlight the greenest states in the U.S. It awarded each state points for 27 green metrics divided among three main categories: environmental quality, eco-friendly behaviors and climate change contributions. Here are the 10 states it found that do the best job of caring for the environment — as well as the 10 states that could use some improvement.

10. New Hampshire

Manchester, New Hampshire autumn foliageCredit: DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

New Hampshire just barely edged out Wisconsin to take 10th place on the list. The state only had an average rank of 29th in the eco-friendly behaviors category. But it took ninth in environmental quality and fifth in climate change contributions. Within the categories, New Hampshire tied for the second highest air quality, had the fifth highest percentage of recycled municipal solid waste and had the fourth lowest total municipal solid waste per capita.

9. South Dakota

South Dakota also fell in the middle of the pack for the eco-friendly behaviors category at 24th place. That category included factors, such as green buildings per capita, energy consumption per capita and green transportation. Within the category, the state tied for first for the highest percentage of energy consumption from renewable sources. Plus, South Dakota took sixth for environmental quality — in which it had the fifth highest air quality and tied for first for the best soil quality. It also did well in climate change contributions, coming in 10th place.

8. Rhode Island

Rhode Island came in 10th place in the environmental quality category, even though it was one of the states with the worst soil quality. The state took seventh for climate change contributions. And it came in 22nd for eco-friendly behaviors. Within that category, it came in first for the lowest energy consumption per capita and had the third lowest gasoline consumption per capita. The state also had the fifth lowest total municipal solid waste per capita.

7. California

California actually was toward the bottom for environmental quality at 43rd place — and within that category it ranked low for air quality. But it made up for that with its ranks for eco-friendly behaviors and climate change contributions, at second and fourth respectively. California had the fourth lowest energy consumption per capita. Plus, it tied for the third highest percentage of recycled municipal solid waste; however, the state also had a high total amount of municipal solid waste per capita.

6. Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ category ranks gave it an overall green score good enough for sixth place. The state’s lowest rank was its 17th-place finish for eco-friendly behaviors. But in that category, it had the fifth most LEED-certified buildings per capita. Massachusetts did much better in the other two categories, coming in fifth for environmental quality and second for climate change contributions. The latter category included factors, such as carbon dioxide emissions per capita and methane emissions per capita.

5. Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota, skylineCredit: Davel5957/Getty Images

Minnesota took 19th in the climate change contributions category. And it came in fourth for eco-friendly behaviors. Within that category, it had the second highest percentage of recycled municipal solid waste. Its best category rank was its second-place finish in environmental quality. The state had the best water quality in the country, and it was one of the states that tied for the best soil quality.

4. Connecticut

Connecticut’s overall green score put it in fourth place with very strong category ranks. It came in ninth for eco-friendly behaviors and had the fifth lowest energy consumption per capita. Plus, the state took seventh for environmental quality — which measured factors, such as water, air and soil quality, as well as total municipal solid waste per capita. But what really earned Connecticut some points was its first-place finish in climate change contributions.

3. Oregon

Oregon certainly didn’t match up to Connecticut for climate change contributions, coming in 21st place in that category. But it did very well in the other categories — taking fourth for environmental quality and first for eco-friendly behaviors. And within eco-friendly behaviors, the state tied for first (with South Dakota and Washington) for the highest percentage of energy consumption from renewable sources.

2. New York

New York’s worst category rank, relatively speaking, was its eighth-place finish in eco-friendly behaviors. Still, within that category, the state had the second lowest energy consumption per capita and the lowest gasoline consumption per capita. New York took third in the other two categories — environmental quality and climate change contributions — giving it an overall score good enough for second place.

1. Vermont

Montpelier, Vermont skylineCredit: SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

The greenest state in the U.S. for 2019 was none other than the Green Mountain State. Vermont actually landed in the middle of the pack — 25th place — for climate change contributions. But it took third for eco-friendly behaviors and first for environmental quality. The state had the fourth highest air quality in the country, the third most LEED-certified buildings per capita and the third lowest total municipal solid waste per capita.

The 10 least eco-friendly states

A tug boat moving toward a bridge spanning the mighty Mississippi River in southern Louisiana near New OrleansCredit: Art Wager/Getty Images

The overall green scores for these states put them in the bottom 10 on WalletHub’s list for 2019.

  • 10. Texas
  • 9. Oklahoma
  • 8. Mississippi
  • 7. Arkansas
  • 6. Alabama
  • 5. North Dakota
  • 4. Wyoming
  • 3. Kentucky
  • 2. West Virginia
  • 1. Louisiana

Several factors contributed to these states’ low green scores. Within the environmental quality category, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kentucky all had some of the worst water quality. Plus, Wyoming had poor soil quality. And Arkansas had high total municipal solid waste per capita.

For the eco-friendly behaviors category, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and West Virginia were the states with the fewest LEED-certified buildings per capita. North Dakota, Wyoming and Louisiana had high energy consumption per capita. And North Dakota, Mississippi and Wyoming all had high gasoline consumption per capita. Furthermore, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Louisiana each had a low percentage of recycled municipal solid waste.

But it wasn’t all bad news for these states. North Dakota actually had the best air quality in the country. And Wyoming tied with New Hampshire for the second best air quality. Plus, Arkansas tied with California for the third highest percentage of recycled municipal solid waste. So hopefully these factors mean there’s promise that every state can raise its green score in the coming years.

Main image credit: Ron_Thomas/Getty Images

96 comments

Pietro Maiorana
Pietro Maiorana4 days ago

Posti davvero incantevoli

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Hui S
Hui S5 days ago

thank you for sharing! I'd love to know what the greenest countries in the world are!

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Leo C
Leo C5 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Marija M
Marija M6 days ago

tks for sharing

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Leo C
Leo C6 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Angela K
Angela K7 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Leo Custer
Leo C8 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Alice L
Alice L9 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Leo Custer
Leo C12 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Ingrid A
Ingrid A12 days ago

thank you

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