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Visiting Seattle: 7 Green Reasons to Go

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Planning a trip to visit Seattle? It’s a great place to stay!

Admittedly, Seattle has a growth problem. The fastest growing city in the US since 2010, it’s where Starbucks and REI started and home to Amazon’s corporate headquarters.

Housing prices are skyrocketing, says my friend Pam.

We love to visit Seattle

In spite of its difficulties, Seattle remains one of my favorite cities to visit when I head to the mainland.

Home to famed Pike Place Market, the oldest farmers market in America, I should’ve known that Seattle would capture my sustainable living heart.

I have to admit, before I visited Seattle it wasn’t on my top ten list of “must see” spots. But I was really impressed with how smart the city is.

seattle public market sign in neon on scaffolding

Public Transportation

The light rail system connects the airport to the city center, with numerous stops along the way.

It takes about half an hour to make it from plane to hotel.

In town, there are several other public transit options, including the Monorail that was originally built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

Of course, Lyft and Uber are readily available, and the close proximity of many sights makes walking a feasible option for many.

Waste

Not only does Seattle offer an option for recycling alongside city trash baskets, they also have a third receptacle for compostables – including paper napkins and wooden stir sticks.

My friend who lives on the outskirts of Seattle tells me that the garbage service offers a compost container in addition to the big recycle and trash containers. I love that!

pink and red dahlias in a galvanized pail, visit seattle must see

Food

Seattle offers a huge assortment of locally grown produce and fresh fish. It would not be difficult to eat locally here – at least during the harvest season.

I also noticed numerous restaurants serving locally sourced foods, so even when dining out it’s possible to eat local.

I did succumb to a few take out coffees, but in all cases, they came in paper cups (no Styrofoam) and many were compostable (see above).

Shopping

I took a couple of reusable shopping bags with me, but I noticed that most of the bags given out by retail shops were of the paper variety.

Many fresh flowers are wrapped in tissue rather than cellophane, too.

And there are lots of locally produced items available for purchase in shops and farmers market stalls.

lavender flowers in a wooden box behind lavender soaps in a basket

Lodging

On our first visit to Seattle, we stayed at the Hyatt Olive 8 thanks to a great media rate and some credit card miles. (We’ve returned to Seattle several times since this first trip.)

I chose this particular location for its environmental responsibility.

Hyatt Olive 8 was the first LEED certified hotel in this green city and it lived up to my expectations and then some. Also? It is a very nice hotel.

  • The hotel features a living roof complete with 24,000 native plants that catch Seattle’s ever-present rainfall and prevent runoff.
  • A watt stopper room key means that power is only on when guests are in their room and a dual flush toilet saves water.
  • The hotel uses non-toxic cleaning products and offers individual cosmetics in recycled bottles.
  • The onsite restaurant, Urbane, serves local, organic produce in season. They do not use or serve bottled water, instead relying on a triple filter system for city water. (Note: we did not eat at Urbane.)
brightly colored glass orbs in a fishing boat - artist dale chihuly

Things to do in Seattle:

Chihuly Garden and Glass

This place is amazing. It’s a bit expensive to get in, but in my opinion, totally worth it.

Filled with amazing blown glass exhibits, every room is a masterpiece in its own right. Gardeners will appreciate the displays outside, though.

Glass sculptures are tucked among the gardens, each installment complementing the landscape.

Pike Place Market

Yes, everybody and then some will be at the market. I’ve been there when it’s wall-to-wall people, and times when it’s substantially less crowded. (My advice: Don’t go on a three-day weekend.)

front of pike place market (neon pink sign: public market) visit seattle

No matter when you go, though, the maze of shops and eateries crammed into several floors will delight and amaze. From the usual tourist souvenirs to vintage collectibles, used books, and fabric, there is surely something for everyone.

square planter made of wood with nasturtiums growing in an x shape

It is a must-see in Seattle, in my opinion. Even if you don’t want to explore the shopping options, it’s a great place to grab a coffee and a pastry or macaron and people watch.

We happened across a wonderful rooftop garden where the community was growing food for donation to a charitable organization.

dark pink and light pink peony flowers

As you can imagine, I gravitated toward items like fresh flowers (so many!), locally produced food items (saffron! honey! balsamic vinegar!), and handcrafted soaps and salves. Oh, and cheese. There’s really good cheese.

visit seattle for beecher's cheese, seen here from across a cobbled street (beige building with black awnings)

And of course, there’s the famous Pike Place Fish Market, where yes, they do throw fish.

pike place fish company with crab on ice

Olympic Sculpture Park

This outdoor art venue sits right on the waterfront, giving an expansive view of Elliot Bay, Puget Sound, and the Olympic National Park in the distance. It’s a gorgeous setting, and the sculptures are fun and kid friendly, too.

This post was originally published in October, 2011; updated June, 2018.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

5 comments… add one
  • NoPotCooking Oct 18, 2011, 3:48 pm

    Sounds like a great trip! We were there last summer and I really liked the city a lot. Did you go to the part of the city where there are dance steps in the pavement? Can’t think of what it is called, but we spent a lot of time there embarrassing ourselves.

  • Sonia Oct 19, 2011, 7:41 am

    This city has long been part of my bucket list, but so far I haven’t had a chance to visit….Hopefully someday!

  • Alexandra Oct 19, 2011, 7:53 am

    Really enjoyed Seattle when I was there 20 years ago for a short visit. Now you have give me quite a few reasons to want to return.

  • sarah henry Oct 24, 2011, 1:11 pm

    Seattle also has a thriving restaurant, artisan food, and urban farming scene too.

  • Vera Marie Badertscher Nov 14, 2011, 6:31 am

    I’m glad you discovered Seattle, because it is indeed a model of efficient living that is sustainable. One of the pluses is its neighborhoods. Where some cities in the west sprawl so that a car is an abosolute necessity, in Seattle you can live, shop, eat out, and get around on foot in compact neighborhoods.

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