It can be, especially when it comes to transportation. Public transportation is generally much better in urban areas. People who live in a city may also have more opportunities to ride their bike or walk to work.
Another thing that makes city living greener is that if you live in an urban area you will probably be living in an apartment. Apartments are greener than freestanding houses because of shared walls. Your left wall is someone’s right wall, and so on.
You would be surprised how much material this saves.
However. Depending on how you live, it can be greener to live in a quite rural area. If you do not need all the modern conveniences available to city dwellers, and have a small farm, you might be quite self sustaining. I know there are some people in rural areas that only take a trip into the city to stock up on necessities a few times a year. For their milk they have a cow, chickens for eggs and they plant large gardens and can their own produce for the winter months. However, if you are considering driving to work every day from a rural area vs taking public transportation, it is definitely greener to live much closer to where you work.
There are lots of things that make living in the city greener. You might walk to work, to the grocery store, to your favorite restaurants, even your local bars. You are much less likely to drive 6 blocks in the city than you are in a rural area where there aren’t safe places to walk.
It also takes less energy to heat tall buildings. In a one or two story home, a lot of heat is lost through the roof. In an apartment, that heat travels upward heating apartment after apartment.
City grocery stores tend to have less wasted food. Shelf space is limited, so there are not aisles and aisles of perishable food to choose from and eventually go bad on the shelf.
Unless you are very self-sufficient, city living can be much better for the environment. Larger and more dense cities tend to have better public transportation, bikable, and walkable areas (often, this is due to the need for too many people to drive in too small a space). City living can also make it easier to carpool, or use Car2Go stations. Many people that live in suburbs have to drive to get all their necessities, and suburban living tends to support sprawling, inefficient strip malls more than condensed, walkable or bikable areas. In addition, apartments (stacking housing vertically) is a much better way to house a lot of people without using up a lot of land.
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