We visited Ann Arbor over Labor Day weekend to visit some friends and it was really enjoyable. I always find it fascinating to see how a new (to me) city is reworking their actions to be more sustainable. Ann Arbor is a college town; University of Michigan is located here. I say this because I often feel college towns are a bit more progressive in this subject because of all the energy a college town holds. People are active and want progress. Ann Arbor seems very serious about reducing their energy and using a higher percentage of renewable energy.
I am a bit upset I didn’t take more photos of sustainability actions I saw in Ann Arbor because the closer I looked the more I saw. I noticed the new parking garage they just opened; it has plug-in stations for electric cars. They have a brewery operated by solar power. They also have solar panels at various downtown locations and LED street lights.
I was impressed by how little traffic was there. Even though it was the weekend before school started and everyone was moving in, there was minimal congestion. Compared to Denver traffic it was wonderful. I don’t know if this is from a greater use of buses, bikes or walking instead of cars or that there are just fewer people living in Ann Arbor. Either way it was nice to not have traffic congestion everywhere we went.
The farmer’s market was very large and very packed. It happens twice a week and had some really great products. There was locally roasted coffee, local syrup, honey, meats, cheeses, bread, fruit, vegetables, flowers, etc. It was a bit overwhelming with how many people were there but at the same time wonderful that all these people were buying local products. Even one restaurant we went to was obviously trying to be more sustainable. Their cups were all compostable, as was their take out packaging. They also had many vegetarian options.
Overall it was a very enjoyable trip. This was enhanced by the sustainability factors that Ann Arbor is working on and has already implemented. It is educational to see the progress and change one town can make to show sustainability is possible if we really work for it.