Green cities: these are the most eco-friendly and sustainable cities in the UK

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Lauren Geall
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Bristol came out on top as the UK's most environmentally friendly place to live.

Live the environmentally friendly lifestyle of your dreams in one of the UK’s greenest cities, as ranked by new research.

2019 has seen plenty of remarkable moments, but none quite as memorable as the climate movement. Led primarily by young people in school strikes and marches around the world, the climate movement has succeeded in bringing conversations about the climate crisis into everyday life and causing more and more of us to adopt more eco-friendly lifestyles.

From owning a reusable water bottle or coffee cup to adopting a vegan diet and cycling to work, living an eco-friendly lifestyle is now more accessible than ever. Concern about the sustainability of our lifestyles, the damage we’re doing to the environment and reducing our waste has now taken centre stage in politics.

In fact, the green-ness of our lifestyles has now become such a priority that cities up and down the country are taking big steps in areas such as recycling, air quality and green spaces to keep up with the demands of their eco-minded residents. And now, thanks to a new report from, we know which UK city comes out on top when it comes to the environment. 

The research, which analysed and ranked the UK’s largest cities based on factors such as recycling, air quality, number of parks, and the number of eco-friendly Google searches, ranked Bristol as the greenest city in the UK. Named the UK location home “to the most eco-minded residents”, the city in the South West of England scored highly for both recycling and air quality, and topped the list when it came to eco-friendly Google searches, with 47 per 10,000 people. 

UK's greenest cities: Bristol has the most "eco-minded" residents of them all.
UK's greenest cities: Bristol has the most "eco-minded" residents of them all.

As anyone who has visited Bristol will know, there’s something uniquely special about the whole place. From the regency era architecture of Clifton to the colorful houses scaling the hills, it’s clear the residents have a lot of love for the place they call home.

If you’re lucky enough to take a visit to Bristol, make sure to check out the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which looms high over the River Avon below. From the Zoo Gardens to the independent shops of Park Street, there’s plenty for any visitor to love about Bristol – and this latest title is the icing on top of the cake.

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Coming in close second behind Bristol was the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, thanks to the number of parks available to residents (2.87 per 10,000 population) and another high score for the levels of recycling. Finishing up the top five were Belfast, Cardiff and Manchester respectively, meaning cities from each of the UK’s four nations made the list.

On the other hand, the cities of Milton Keynes, Southampton and Portsmouth came in at the lower end of the scale for their poor air quality, with Portsmouth also having one of the lowest recycling rates of the bunch. 

“It’s clear that the climate, renewable energy and sustainability is a huge focus right now – and so it should be,” said Peter Earl, head of energy at “We should all be putting combined effort into finding the best eco-friendly solutions.”

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    If you’re looking to make a move to (literal) greener pastures in 2020, these are the top 10 cities to consider:

    1. Bristol
    2. Edinburgh
    3. Belfast
    4. Cardiff
    5. Manchester
    6. Northampton
    7. Aberdeen
    8. Glasgow
    9. Bolton
    10. Swansea

    It’s worth noting that no matter where your city places in these rankings, we all have the chance to change these figures by incorporating eco-friendly practices into our daily life. Whether it’s ensuring we recycle (even when the bin’s full and throwing it away is so much easier) or cycling to work once or twice a week, it’s the little steps that really make the difference. 

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    Lauren Geall

    As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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