Stranded polar bears. Rising sea levels. Extreme weather. By now you know the devastating impacts of climate change, and it’s pretty easy to get disheartened by it.
Fortunately, there are some pretty smart cookies here in America who have come up with positive solutions that might change how you feel about our warming planet. Perhaps, you might even feel inspired to take action yourself.
Recyclebank has ranked the 10 most inspiring sustainable innovations happening from coast to coast. We’ve picked five of our favorite projects, but you should really head on over to EcoWatch for the whole list. (The polar bears will thank you!)
MORE: Can I Recycle This? 5 Things You Should Always Recycle (and 5 Things You Shouldn’t)
1. Organic food in La Farge, Wis.
 We’ve already told you how the food industry is a big environmental nightmare in so many different ways. But at Organic Valley (aka the biggest organic farm co-op in the country) food and farmers are truly treated with respect. Its 45,000 square-foot barn (constructed from locally-sourced materials, naturally) sells sustainable food and hosts workshops and exhibits to help educate the entire community. As the company boasts on their website: “The central mission of our cooperative is to support rural communities by protecting the health of the family farm — working toward both economic and environmental sustainability.”
2. Xeriscaping in Denver
This form of water-wise landscaping might sound unfamiliar to you, but here’s why it’s important: Drought. For water-pinched states in the southwest, xeriscaping is not only a beautiful alternative to water-intensive lawns, it conserves much more water, too. As EcoWatch reports, Denver’s water board has put up free downloadable instructions so you can remodel your own yard.
3. Green building in Chicago
As we’ve mentioned before, it literally takes a lot of energy to go to work. The EPA found that commercial buildings in Chicago are responsible for 70 percent of the city’s carbon emissions. But in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint, Chicago has a Green Permit Program that promotes, expedites and reduces the cost of green architecture. In fact, the Windy City has the most LEED-certified projects in the U.S. at 295.
4. Alternative transportation in Portland, Ore.
Light rail, streetcar, bus, biking, smart cars. If there’s one place you want to be without a smog-emitting automobile, it’s probably Portland. Thanks to the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, it’s one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country.
5. Wind Energy in Corpus Christi, Texas
Back in 2002, Texas deregulated its electricity market, which meant that consumers could pick their own energy provider. That’s when Corpus Christi decided to pave the way for wind power. The city is now home to the county’s first on-port wind farm that ships wind turbines to all other states. By using the power of all-natural wind, Texas now saves more than 8.1 billion gallons of water and avoids 22 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.
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