The Pacific coast American city is a leading green light, says Sarah Marshall.

There's no denying travel and tourism have an impact on the environment. But as a consumer, it is possible to minimise damage by putting some thought into the places you choose to visit.

At the forefront of urban environmental thinking, American city Santa Monica is a favourable option for eco-conscious tourists, thanks to its longstanding environmental commitments. By 2030, the city aims to achieve zero waste through diversion, composting and recycling.

Still need convincing? Here are 12 more green reasons to go...

1. The battle against plastics started years ago

Santa Monica was one of the first American cities to ban polystyrene food service containers in 2007 and single-use plastic bags in 2011, which then turned into a state-wide ban.

2. There's a shift towards marine-degradable materials

City authorities have now gone even further, with new regulations banning plastic utensils, cups, lids, stirring sticks, bowls and more. From January 1, 2019, local businesses must ensure these products are made from marine-degradable material, instead of plastic.

3. Stay in a choice of sustainable hotels

Ocean View Hotel, Santa Monica Motel, Shore Hotel and The Ambrose Hotel are all Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified properties employing a range of green business practices, including reduced water consumption, increased water and energy efficiency, installation of solar panels and LED lighting.

4. Cars aren't essential

Measuring just 8.3 square miles, it's easy to navigate the city on foot. But if you need to move at a faster pace, there are plenty of environmentally-friendly transportation options, including Breeze Bike Share, a public bike share programme, and the Santa Monica Free Ride, a free shuttle service to transport people to Downtown Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier, Main Street, Montana Avenue, and the Metro Expo Line.

5. Food is reliably fresh

Santa Monica's weekly farmers markets have been named the best in the country by Travel + Leisure magazine. Nearly 200 different growers and food producers attract famous chefs, celebrities and foodies.

6. It's possible to shop in a sustainable environment

Originally operated as an indoor mall, the Gold LEED certified Santa Monica Place has been renovated into an open-air concept with views of the Pacific from a Dining Deck. It also incorporates water-efficient landscaping and a green roof element.

7. You can hang out in a Green Light District

Main Street, also known as the Green Light District, has more certified green businesses than any other street in Santa Monica. Along with boutiques, design galleries, cafes, bars and restaurants, there's also a community garden.

8. Leisure facilities leave less of a carbon footprint

Located on five acres of oceanfront property, initially developed during the 1920s for actress Marion Davies, the Annenberg Community Beach House is now a public facility and has earned Gold LEED certification for initiatives such as the use of recycled blue jeans for insulation. Today, visitors can take a dip in the original marble pool used by Hollywood elite.

9. Visitors can learn how to save the bay

Featuring hands-on presentations and interactive exhibits, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is a part of Santa Monica's Heal the Bay programme - an initiative to educate, inspire and empower visitors to be stewards of the environment.

10. Green spaces are plentiful

Designed by James Corner Field Operations, the architect responsible for New York City's High Line Park, six-acre urban oasis Tongva Park is just two blocks from the Pacific Ocean. It consists of winding walkways, observation decks, picnic tables and grass areas.

11. Even the Ferris wheel is eco-friendly

The world's first and only solar-powered Ferris wheel offers panoramic views of the Los Angeles coastline and mountains from more than 185 feet above the Santa Monica Pier. Come after dark for a light show generated by 174,000 energy-efficient LED lights.

12. Good green works are recognised

Every year Santa Monica hosts the Sustainable Quality Awards, honouring sustainable businesses making significant achievements in the areas of sustainable economic development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the natural environment.

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