Cleveland: Green City?

Forty years ago, Cleveland’s river burned. Literally. The Cuyahoga River, which winds through Cleveland and Akron, was once one of the most polluted rivers in the United States, having caught fire more than a dozen times since 1868. When it burned in 1969, Time magazine described the Cuyahoga (which means “crooked river” in Iroquois) as the river that “oozes rather than flows” and where a person “does not drown but decays.” Needless to say, the 1969 fire spurred environmental concerns and a plethora of environmental legislation was passed, including the Clean Water Act and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

But where is Cleveland today? According to MSNBC, Rock City still ranks among one of the most polluted cities in the U.S. (In fact, one fifth of the top 25 air-particle polluted cities are located in Ohio. Ouch.) But the city, if ever slowly, is hopping on the green bandwagon, trying to dispose of its bad rap.

Last October, five Cleveland hotel groups took the first steps to being green, according to Green Lodging News.

The Radisson Hotel Cleveland has implemented a recycling program and unplugged its mini-fridges when not in use; Hyatt Cleveland is seeking an Energy Star label and wants to go paperless by 2020. The city’s baseball stadium and Great Lakes Science Center installed solar panels on both roofs, and the museum’s front lawn is home to a wind turbine.

And Cleveland’s green efforts aren’t limited to trimming energy use, they’re also incorporating green thinking into their menus. Stop by the Greenhouse Tavern (for roasted tea hills chicken with Ohio asparagus. Yum!), one of the first green-certified restaurants in the state. Or try the Great Lakes Brewing Company, a sustainable brewer that serves organic and locally grown food, has an intricate recycling program, uses vermicomposting (worms) to dispose of kitchen scraps, and operates the “Fatty Wagon,” a delivery truck that runs on recycled vegetable oil from the restaurant.

We can drink to that.

To learn more about Cleveland’s green efforts, check out the Positively Cleveland blog.