With progressive transportation, leading composting practices, and a commitment to environmental preservation, the Emerald City consistently ranks as one of the greenest in the country. It’s simple to lean into this culture of conservation and make your travel more sustainable.
Seattle incorporates green practices into nearly every facet of life—it’s why we consistently top lists of the most sustainable cities in the country. Curbside compost bins get picked up alongside garbage and recycling, which helps Seattle divert more than 60 percent of waste—that’s nearly double the national recycling average. More than 90 percent of the city’s electricity comes from hydropower—in fact, in 2005, our electric utility company was the first in the nation to achieve and maintain 100 percent carbon neutrality.
With that in mind, we want to make it easy for visitors to do their part while they’re traveling. Compostable forks, spoons, straws, and recycling and composting stations are standard throughout the city—after all, Seattle banned plastic utensils at bars and restaurants in 2018. The city also banned plastic bags in 2012, which was expanded statewide in 2021, so don’t forget to bring a reusable tote—or find one while traveling to bring home as a souvenir!
Many guests across the country are familiar with the “green room” initiative, but not as many know that it started as a pilot program at the Sheraton Grand Seattle. This innovative program rewards guests for opting out of linen and towel replacement, rewarding guests with their choice of a $5 gift card for the hotel’s restaurants or loyalty points for choosing to reuse their linens. This started a revolution nationwide for all Starwood and Marriott properties and the program has been replicated nationwide.
Green operations and sustainability are key at many hotels in our region. Hyatt at Olive 8 was Seattle’s first LEED Silver-certified hotel when it opened in 2009 with sustainable elements like a green roof, water efficiency and conservation practices, energy-efficient fixtures, and use of natural light. Hyatt Regency Seattle opened ten years later, the first Seattle hotel to achieve LEED Gold certification with everything from a light-colored roof to reduce the urban heat-island effect to an ultra-efficient laundry system capturing heat and water for reuse. Sheraton Grand Seattle and W Seattle are two of the city’s Green Seal-certified properties downtown. All Kimpton properties—including Seattle examples Kimpton Hotel Monaco Seattle, Kimpton Hotel Vintage Seattle, and Kimpton Palladian Hotel—eliminated single-use hygiene products and utilize non-toxic cleaning supplies; environmentally friendly efforts like these have led to 100 percent certification by the Green Key Eco-Rating Program.
Travel can carry a large carbon footprint, a conundrum that SEA Airport is actively combatting with award-winning environmental programs. It has installed nearly 300 charging stations for electric ground support vehicles, requires fuel efficient ground transportation, and offers preconditioned air at gates to reduce airline fossil fuel usage. In 2014, this was the first airport in North America to earn certification for reducing its carbon emissions.
Traveling to and from the airport, and throughout the city, is also green thanks to options like Sound Transit’s electric-powered Link light rail, providing reliable service between SEA Airport, downtown Seattle, and North Seattle. And nearly 100 percent of King County Metro’s fleet is hybrid or zero-emission electric buses, trolleys, and streetcars—the second-largest such system in the country—including Seattle Streetcar’s South Lake Union and First Hill lines.
Seattle’s compact downtown makes for a very walkable city. For those who need a ride, however, there is plenty of public transportation, bike shares, and other eco-friendly ways to get around. Keep your eye out for app-based bike and scooter rentals from Lime, VEO, LINK, WHEELS, or SPIN.