Those who saw the 2013 Matt Damon sci-fi film Elysium will know that it painted a grim picture of the future. The poor people of earth are forced to live in violent, horribly polluted cities where they build homes amongst decaying buildings and massive piles of garbage, while the rich and elite have all moved to a massive orbiting space station with an artificial atmosphere that allows them to live in beautiful homes, surrounded by pristine fields and lush greenery.
The utopia of the Elysium space station makes it look like somewhere that most people would want to live, but since it’s a movie, its beauty is largely computer generated. There are many cities in the world that seem determined to make sure that they don’t become polluted wastelands, and so are doing amazing things in order to be clean and green, both now, and for generations to come. So what are these beautiful cities- which cities in the world are the cleanest?
The capital city of New Zealand experienced an influx of visitors who decided to tour the country after The Lord of the Rings films became immensely popular; after all, New Zealand is Middle Earth! Wellington is hardly a huge city, with a population of just over 395,000 people. The central city’s potential for growth is limited due to the fact that it’s nestled between the ocean and beautiful steep hills, and the wind that blows in over the water ensures that the air in the city is always crisp and fresh, even when you’re downtown. The wind can be slightly annoying on some days, and the city’s nickname is in fact Windy Wellington.
Singapore, Republic of Singapore
The island city-state boasts some of the cleanest streets in the world, although this is largely due to an approach that some might find a bit extreme, like hefty fines being given to anyone caught littering, and the fact that chewing gum has been banned there since 2004. So in Singapore, there’s no chance of having a dirty sticky mess on the bottom of your shoe, since the only possible gum on offer is of the nicotine variety, and it requires a doctors prescription. There don’t seem to be any illegal underground gum clubs in the city, so it seems that citizens and visitors have simply learned to live without it.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
While the city is well known for its vice quarter, and its lenient marijuana laws, the city is also home to some of the fittest, cleanest lungs in the world. Amsterdam is a cycling paradise, and in the central city there are more bikes than cars. Not only is this healthy, but it’s also logical- it’s far easier to navigate the narrow cobbled streets on the back of a bike than it is by car. Visitors need to be mindful of all the bikes on the roads and listen out for the bells that cyclists will ring to tell pedestrians to get out of the way. The city might be healthy, but it won’t be for you, if you’re hit by a bike and end up falling into a canal.
The Swiss city looks like an illustration for a box of really expensive chocolates, and the city itself is full of sweet treasures. Well known as a banking city, Zurich is surrounded by amazing wilderness and has a film festival that is quickly growing in influence and popularity. Like many cities in Switzerland and nearby Austria, the Alps that dominate the skyline ensure that the air is fresh and invigorating, and the citizens of Zurich seem to truly take pride in their city, making sure that it stays clean and pristine.
Helsinki has a straightforward approach to keeping its air clean, in that they have a huge number of parks and green areas, all filled with plants and trees soaking up those nasty pollutants; and in fact, more than one third of the city is parkland. The city authorities have even introduced a fee for bringing a car into the central city, meaning that many residents opt for public transport or using a bike.
With all the smoke and smog that can be found in large cities, it’s a wonder that these large cities are able to keep everything as clean as they do.