America’s Best: The Ten Most Environmentally-Friendly States

Written by Mark Young, Chief Operating Officer

HOME / BLOG / America’s Best: The Ten Most Environmentally-Friendly States

Not all American states are equal, at least when it comes to their natural environments. Some states simply outperform others on environmental metrics, and U.S. News proves it’s true.

Measuring the natural environments of every American state, U.S. News released a full ranking of the best states for natural environments.

Four different categories were used to assess each state’s natural environment. Scores were granted for a state’s drinking water quality, level of industrial toxins, urban air quality, and pollution health risk. These four scores were then added up to grant a state’s overall ranking for natural environment.

Regardless of where your home state ranks, however, always keep in mind that Rebox has distribution centres stationed all across North America. Pick a state and Rebox will definitely be able to provide its unique, environmentally-friendly services to any company housed there.

Rebox picks up used corrugated cardboard box materials then repurposes them for future use, removing the need to produce more packaging materials. It’s a practical example of the old environmental mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

If you find your state missing from the top-ten list below (and even if you do) just remember that partnering with Rebox is an easy way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decrease energy use, and shrink a state’s carbon footprint.


New York

It may seem a bit counterintuitive that the state housing a metropolis like New York City can be competitively environmental, but New York makes a strong effort to keep it green. This is especially true when it comes to water quality, taking the number 10 spot in an American ranking.

Outside of the realm of water, New York City is surprisingly green, at least when you consider population density. Since the city is built so high, is incredibly dense, and the number of drivers-per-persons is actually somewhat low.



With wide expanses of land and lacking a heavy manufacturing sector, Mississppi keeps its air incredibly clean. So clean, in fact, that the Hospitality State actually boasts the best urban air quality in America, only behind Vermont. Mississippi performed quite well in a ranking of drinking water quality, too, taking the number nine spot in the United States.



If you’ve ever been worried about the long-term health effects of pollution, Colorado may be the state for you. Researchers measuring negative health impacts of exposure over a long period of time across the fifty states found that Colorado ranks as one of the best geographic areas for low pollution health risk. When factoring in Colorado’s population of just over 5.6 million people, the state is actually one of the best for pollution-related health risks on a per capita basis.



While Washington’s drinking water quality could be improved, the state performs quite well when assessing its amount of toxic pollution per square mile. Overall, Washington comes in at number for 13 for its “low industrial toxins” score and comes in as the tenth best for urban air quality. You also can’t forget that Washington is the second-best state for the price of electricity and renewable energy usage.


South Dakota

People produce pollution, as everyone knows. Places with less people, then, produce less pollution. Such is the case with South Dakota, which only houses about 840,000 people. When factoring in the size of the state, South Dakota has one of the lowest population density scores in the country.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. All of that open space with a low population means South Dakota isn’t heavily polluted by people. The state also ranks as number 12 for urban air quality in the country.



Head to the south if you want to breathe in clean, fresh air, because the area has that in spades. Of the southern states, Arkansas performs particularly well for urban air quality, taking the number four spot in the country. No doubt all that clean air will make exploring the varied landscapes of Arkansas (the state is home to mountains, forests and riverside lowlands) even more enjoyable.


Rhode Island

Rather average scores on drinking water quality, low industrial toxins, and urban air quality are given a huge boost by Rhode Island’s incredibly low pollution health risk. Rhode Island ranked number seven in the country for its pollution health risk per capita, quite the feat given how the state is the second most densely populated of the 50 states. Rhode Island’s size, however, definitely plays a role in that, as it is the second smallest state in terms of landmass.



Drinking water quality is Massachusetts’s best strength right now, taking the eighth spot in the nation-wide ranking. But the state may become a major player in the renewable energy sector in the years to come. A piece of legislation, bill S.1849, was also passed this year pledging to make the state run on 100% renewable energy by 2050. The bill aims to eliminate the state’s ”use of fossil fuels and other polluting and dangerous forms of energy” to safeguard the environment. All that renewable energy could mean big savings for the state, too, as some environmental advocates predicting that a move to green energy could save Massachusetts nearly $18 billion a year.


North Dakota

Despite the fact that North Dakota is a major player in America’s oil extraction sector (a recent change that has been a major economic boon) the state still has the fifth best urban air quality in the country. The state’s government has also pledged to produce strategies to mitigate the environmental impacts of oil extraction. In fact, the EPA approved of the very first “Class VI Underground Injection Control (UIC) program” for carbon sequestration wells in North Dakota. In simpler terms, this will give the state more autonomy when tracking the impacts of storing carbon dioxide below ground.



Which state other than Florida, the Sunshine State, could take the top-spot for America’s best natural environment? Beyond the incredibly well-fitting title, Florida proves its environmental mettle by scoring quite well in the categories of low pollution health risk and urban air quality. Florida does best, however, when it comes to drinking water quality, taking the number 6 spot in the nation.