Seattle is the kind of city that offers a number of experiences so vast to entertain different types of travelers. The eco-minded ones will certainly be fascinated by the nature around Seattle and the numerous initiatives taken to promote ecotourism and a sustainable way of life among the Seattleites. Lakes Union and Washington and Elliott Bay make a perfect frame to set the urban contrast of skyscrapers and forests. The frequent rain will probably become your fellow traveler, but any break is good to gear up a bicycle or a kayak to make the most of the temporarily generous weather. Seattle is the city where people are used to recycle and eat organic food. This city eco-guide will point out main activities, resources and initiatives involved in this matter.
Moving around in Seattle
You don't need a car to visit Seattle and its surrounding, as public transports are one of the most efficient assets of the city. Designed and developed to fit people needs, buses, monorail, ferries and water taxis are used to cover the urban and suburban area of Seattle. This is also a sustainable way to reduce carbon emissions in the environment.
At the moment the CBD, the central business district of Seattle is a free ride zone, which means that anyone can hop on and off any bus without paying a cent. This privilege is planned to last until October 2012, but it could be extended further on.
In case this won't happen, bus route 99 will always be free: it runs from the International District and Pioneer Square North to Broad Street. This is a very convenient, and free way to get to one of the city most visited attractions, the Space Needle (it is just a few blocks away from Broad Street stops).
A big amount of money has been invested to create useful, smart and safe cycling paths to travel around the city with no hassles. A proper bike program has been drawn up and is available for consultation on the Seattle Transportation website.
Being an ecologic traveler doesn't mean that you cannot be tempted by some of the USA symbols: a ride on a limousine. Yes, they are now available almost everywhere in the world, but Seattle Green Limo offers a green service, as their cars use a biodiesel made from any recycled oil (also french fried grease). It means that it is biodegradable, CO2 emission are reduced of 80%, particulates of 47% and much more.
Eco tours, activities and wilderness
As the described above, Seattle is wrapped up in a beautiful natural contest, so a city tour can include a kayak or rafting escape. For the first option, Northwest Outdoor Center offers lessons, rentals and sales of kayaks. Talking about rafting, the Eco River Tours organizes river ecological tours to spot the wildlife living in the Skagit Valley, such as Bald Eagles and salmons.
Another inspiring eco tour of Seattle can be experienced enjoying Alki Bike and Board, a 14 miles bicycle tour of the scenic Alki Beach and West Seattle vistas.
Do you think this is enough? Think again, because the best is yet to come! Gray whales and Orca whales can be spotted in the North Pacific in season. Clipper Vacations is one of the most popular and best rated companies and its tours leave from downtown Seattle.
Green accommodation in Seattle
There are many options to enjoy a sustainable stay in Seattle. In this eco guide we have chosen two kinds of accommodation: an hostel and a luxury hotel. They provide different services but are both based on the same green perspective.
City hostel Seattle is located downtown, close to the Space Needle and it claims itself as an art hostel other than a green structure. It means that they use non-toxic products for cleaning, recycled wood for the reception desk and tables, collect water from the rain, serve honey bees and fresh eggs for breakfast and much more; on the other hand, walls are painted by Seattle artists and sculptures, writers and poetry are usually showed.
Green Hotel Monaco is also located downtown and offers an eco-friendly luxury in order to provide a classy, but still environment aware, service.
Organic food and vegetarian restaurant
Seattle is dotted with places offering alternative cuisines. The use of organic ingredients is very well spread out and so are restaurant and caf?s of this kind. Urbane Restaurant and Bar works with local farmers and producers to ensure a high quality and certified local food.
Chaco Canyon Organic Caf?s provides organic food (between 90% and 97% all year round), raw food and vegan food. Coffee business, in particular, is structured as a direct trade to support local independent farmers.
For exotic food seekers, Araya's Place is a fine vegan Thai restaurant, boasting a rich menu starting from a gluten free bakery to main courses and buffet.
Photo Credit: Michael Holden