In almost every area of our lives, today’s economy has made a major shift towards the world of ecology, going green and eco-friendly. Consumers are emphasizing an eco-lifestyle and companies are investing in everything from renewable sources of energy to completely ecologically safe products. Cities, counties, and entire states in the U.S. and around the globe are focused on reversing global warming. In this environment it comes as no surprise that there is a walk-of-shame for states in the U.S. that are listed as the ‘least green’.

In 2011, the organization 24/7 Wallstreet analyzed each of the states in the United States to evaluate their levels of pollution. The term pollution covers a lot of territory including air, water, earth, recycling efforts, fossil fuel energy use, etc.. The variables that exist can be state-specific as well. Some states have large tracts of land but no real industrial base, therefore they don’t have a need for high level industry requirements. With that said, those same states may rank high in wind turbine but may have the largest quantity of power plants that are coal-fired. 24/7 Wallstreet used an evaluation scale for 49 metric areas. The metric information was gleaned from just about every organization possible, both Federal and not-for-profit. The data used for the analysis was based on 2009-2010, and included thousands of data input information.

Based on the intense analysis of all of the data, here is the list of the greenest states in the U.S.:

Colorado: This state scored above average in just about every one of the pollution scores. It stands as #6 against toxins that cause birth defects including waterway carcinogens. Colorado ranks as # 12 in particle pollution and # 7 in their targets for energy savings. Colorado can proudly claim 6% of their energy use from alternative resources and is # 8 in the best rating in the U.S.

Oregon: The state of Oregon is in the middle one third of the entire metrics for pollution, including a rank of # 29 in toxic waste violations from the EPA and #33 in general toxic exposure. Oregon has high standard ratings for both their policies and alternative energy initiatives, as they are #2 in the most energy-savings programs. This state rates as the second highest level for hydro-electricity energy and is # 8 in non-hydroelectric alternative energy which can mostly be attributed to their wind farms.

Idaho: This state produces 84.5% of all consumed energy via alternative sources. Idaho ranks as #5 for the production of geothermal energy, #6 for hydroelectrical power and has the 4th lowest rank of fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

Montana: The residents of Montana are proudly linked to their nickname of “Big Sky Country” and rightly so. This state ranks lowest in contributing factors of ozone particulants. Montana ranks well in many of the other categories, including # 7 for total use of energy. The rankings are a direct result of the fact that Montana has such a low population (3rd lowest in the U.S.)

South Dakota: This is another state with a low population density (5th lowest), however they also have a low pollution level. South Dakota can claim the fewest EPA violations (14) since 2000 and generates the 2nd lowest amount of hazardous waste annually. It ranks 4th in alternative energy policies, with a goal of accomplishing 10% energy use via alternative sources by the year 2015.

Hawaii: It must first be noted that approximately 25% of this state’s gross state product is a direct result of tourism. Hawaii has great concerns over their natural resources and the environment. They produce the least toxic waste annually and have the best score for 2 air quality measurements. In addition, Hawaii holds a ranking of # 6 in their energy savings programs combined with the policies.

Nevada: There may be a reason Nevada ranks so low on the water pollution scale; mainly because it is an arid/dry state. Nevada does rank well in the production of alternative energy due to their 2nd highest ranking in geothermal and solar photovoltaic energy. While the state may have lower levels of pollution and great scores in alternative energy Nevada ranks just a tad above an average score when it comes to the topic of policy initiatives.

New Hampshire: Low in pollution, New Hampshire ranks as the 4th lowest in harmful pollution via particles in the nation. They rank # 5 in toxic exposure and they have the 4th lowest level of waterways developmental toxins. New Hampshire also ranks as the 5th lowest for the release of toxins affecting reproduction and 5th lowest in the release of any chemicals that are cancer causing.

Maine: This state can claim that their energy use is almost at the fifty percentile from renewable sources. Main has the largest renewable energy source from non-hydroelectric. The state has the biggest percentage of timberland in the U.S. so it may not be a surprising fact that wood and wood waste offer the largest portion of their energy sources.

Vermont: A key factor to note for Vermont is that it has both the lowest GDP and the 2nd smallest population in the U.S. This then creates an understandable situation where they have less pollution than many of the other states. Vermont has the least amount of cardinogenic toxin releases and the smallest of carbon footprints as compared to any other state. Vermont ranks in the top 15 in twenty out of 28 categories for green efforts. They have numerous policies for the promotion of efficiency and pollution reduction

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