Top 10 Ways to Go Green in Philadelphia
It’s easy being green in Philadelphia
Photo by M. McClellan
Philadelphia, originally designed by William Penn to be a “greene countrie towne,” maintains its eco-friendly roots these days — and then some. No wonder the ultra-green-thumbed Phillie Phanatic is our favorite mascot.
We encourage you to think green when you travel to and around Philadelphia, and if you follow these 10 easy tips, you’ll be well on your way.
Start your trip out on an eco-friendly foot by choosing “train travel”: instead of flying or driving. Whether you’re coming from Chicago, Florida, Baltimore, Harrisburg, Albany, Boston, New York City or Washington, D.C., you can get to Philadelphia quickly and easily via Amtrak. All while minimizing your carbon footprint.
Amtrak trains are fast, comfortable and spacious. What’s more — they’re a more sustainable way to travel, 17% more efficient than air travel and 21% more efficient than car travel. “Click here”:/tours/philadelphia/amtrak for details.
2. Take public transportation
SEPTA is Philadelphia’s public transportation system and its network of buses, subways, trains and trolleys can get you just about anywhere. If you’re flying into Philadelphia International Airport, for instance, you can take SEPTA’s R1 train from the airport into the city instead of taking a cab, renting a car or having someone pick you up. It’s inexpensive and fast, getting you to Center City in 20 minutes.
3. Bring good walking shoes
Year after year, Philadelphia is rated as one of the best walking cities in the country. And it’s no wonder why — the city layout is simple to master and our neighborhood streets are filled with fun and diverse shops, restaurants, museums, parks and people.
The compact Center City boasts founder William Penn’s easy-to-follow grid street design. It spans just 25 blocks between two rivers — the Schuylkill and the Delaware. In between, the north/south streets are numbered and the east/west streets have tree names (e.g., Walnut, Spruce, Pine). In addition, Center City has five main parks or squares (Franklin, Washington, Rittenhouse, Logan and Center, current site of City Hall), conveniently spread out so as to serve as perfect rest stops during your day out.
4. Rent a bike
Looking to explore more of the city than you can see on foot? Then head to the Lloyd Hall Bike Shack on Kelly Drive to get yourself a speedy, two-wheeled loaner. You can ride the Kelly/Martin Luther King, Jr. loop, see the sights and use not a drop of gas in the process.
Philadelphia’s downtown has a number of terrific and hospitable hotels for you to choose from. By staying in Center City, you keep yourself within easy distance (either on foot or via public transportation) of the vast majority of the city’s sights and attractions.
6. Reduce the energy you use in your hotel room
Turning your heat or air conditioning down even just one degree can make a huge difference in the amount of energy you use. Also remember to unplug battery chargers, cell phone cords and lap top chargers so that your electronics don’t sit around sipping energy while you’re out exploring the city. Also, many hotels offer the option of keeping the same sheets and towels for the duration of your stay. Choosing to sleep on the same sheets for multiple nights — just like you’d do at home — means less water is consumed. Everybody wins!
The Four Seasons Philadelphia, whose five-star Fountain Restaurant grows much of its produce in the hotel’s rooftop garden, constantly ranks as one of Philadelphia’s greenest hotels. Read our coverage of their eco-friendly efforts here.
7. Eat at restaurants that source ingredients locally
Many of Philadelphia’s best restaurants are choosing to go green by serving meals made from locally grown and produced foods. Old City’s Farmicia and University City’s White Dog Café are two good choices. Additionally, during the summer months, Philadelphia neighborhoods come alive with farmers’ markets. Planning your meals around one of these markets means that you’d eat amazingly fresh fruits and vegetables while, supporting local farms and reducing the miles your food had to travel.
8. Drink beer from Philadelphia’s local craft brewers
Philadelphia is America’s greatest beer city and when your beer comes from a down-the-street brewery instead of across the ocean, its carbon footprint is a whole lot smaller.
You can indulge at a brewery or brewpub (Triumph, Iron Hill, Manayunk, Philadelphia Brewing Co. or Yards to name a few) or head to one of the numerous amazing gastropubs that serve great food along with excellent local beers on tap. Standard Tap, Royal Tavern and North Third are good places to start. Bottoms up.
9. Shop at independent businesses that sell locally produced wares
Maximize the impact of your purchases by spending your cash at local shops. Joseph Fox Books is an indie favorite for reading material, Blendo is perfect for gifts and one-of-a-kind vintage pieces and Duross & Langel makes all of its soaps and lotions right in the 13th Street store.
10. Minimize waste by using reusable bottles and bags
Bringing your own water bottles and refilling them each night means that you won’t need to buy beverages while you’re out on Independence Mall. If you’re a daily coffee drinker, consider toting a travel mug for your morning cup. Instead of amassing a huge collection of plastic bags while shopping for souvenirs, tuck a cloth or nylon bag into your daypack for all those new purchases.