Most people understand the benefits of recycling, cutting down on their use of non-biodegradable materials, and trying to live as sustainable of a life as possible. They know that doing so is the key to protecting the planet.
Unfortunately, the institutions around us don’t always reflect individual actions. Countries and corporations are often the biggest polluters, and many are responsible for jeopardizing the well-being of future generations.
Thankfully, more and more countries (and companies!) are beginning to realize that a healthy environment means healthy people, and because of that, have made sustainability a priority.
Read on to learn about ten countries that are leading the way around the world in sustainability.
Denmark is at the top of a lot of lists. It’s the second happiest country, it has a fantastic healthcare and education system, and it’s environmentally conscious (1).
Sounds like a dream, right?
Besides recycling, Denmark invests heavily in green transportation, renewable energy, and waste management, among other things.
The Environmental Performance Index, a measurement used to assess a country’s sustainability, awarded Denmark a score of 82.5—the number one spot in the world (2).
Like its Scandanavian neighbor, Sweden is also pretty great at—well, pretty much everything. It’s happy, safe, and, on top of everything else, clean.
The Swedes care about protecting the environment so much they prioritize buying sustainably produced food over non-sustainable alternatives. Sweden also ranks high in areas like waste treatment, air quality, and landfills.
Finland is the happiest country, excels at just about everything relating to the environment, and—you guessed it—is another Scandanavian country.
Besides having some of the cleanest and freshest air in the world, Finland is also taking serious steps to transition to sustainable energy sources. As of now, the country uses more renewable energy than fossil fuels (3).
The fourth country on this list and the fourth and final Scandanavian country, Norway is another sustainability leader.
Norway has worked hard to transition away from fuel-guzzling cars and into electric and hybrid models. Today, around 60% of the cars that Norwegians use run on batteries (4).
Like its Scandanavian neighbors, Norway has also taken serious steps towards transitioning to renewable energy sources.
Size doesn’t mean anything when it comes to sustainability. With a population of only 636,000, Luxembourg managed to score an 82.3 on the EPI (5).
Just a decade ago, this tiny European country was topping the charts for CO2 emissions. It now has one of the lowest CO2 growth rates in the world and is on track to reduce it by millions of tons more this year.
In January of this year, the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement—a pledge that holds countries accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions (6). Given the name of that treaty, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that France is a global leader in sustainability.
Besides helping draft the Paris Agreement, France has taken other steps towards building a greener country. Its cities are full of biking and walking lanes, and a recent law mandates that all new commercial buildings need to either have solar panels or plants.
Japan has come a long way since its post-World War II industrial boom. Today, with an EPI score of 75.1, it’s the 12th most sustainable country in the world.
This East Asian country boasts a thriving renewable energy market and ever-evolving eco-friendly cities. It also works hard to combat electronic waste by mandating that people recycle old electronics.
Beer and pretzels, anyone? How about vegan food? In recent years, veganism has become more popular in Germany.
Altering their food palettes isn’t all the country has done, however. Germany has also taken serious steps to transition to sustainable energy sources. By next year, this central European country plans on shutting down its last nuclear power plant.
Switzerland might have a history brimming with neutrality, but it’s certainly taken a stance on climate change. It consistently ranks in the top five countries on the EPI.
While other countries bury their trash, leading to ground and water pollution, Switzerland burns theirs. In fact, it doesn’t even have a landfill.
On top of that, Switzerland also has a powerful carbon filter plant that removes carbon dioxide from the air.
Despite being one of the smallest countries, Costa Rica houses nearly 5% of the world’s biodiversity (7). Because of that, protecting the environment isn’t optional for this Latin American nation—it’s a necessity.
Costa Rica might not rank as high on the EPI as some other countries on this list, but it’s taken serious steps to remedy that. It works hard to combat deforestation and is also one of the best eco-tourism locations in the world.
Green and clean: A future we should all work towards
From Central America to Asia and everywhere in between, countries everywhere are taking serious steps towards building a more sustainable future. And yet while their stories and actions are inspiring, it’s clear that we can all be doing more.
At Vitapod, we believe that a better world starts with the individual. Take a look at some of our pods and start building a healthier future today.