Sustainability is fundamental

What does sustainability in Madison look like? It's about making a mark without leaving one.

When your landscape features five lakes (which transform into frozen playgrounds in the winter), 200+ miles of bike paths, and 270 public parks, sustainability isn’t just a trend—it’s a tradition. You will find some of the most beautiful scenery in the region that has landed us titles like #11 in 30 Most Beautiful Cities in the U.S. and #4 Greenest Cities in the U.S

Visiting Madison gives you the opportunity to see sustainable travel in action. You can discover more than 650 plants representing more than 475 different species all year long at the indoor Bolz Conservatory and free outdoor gardens at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, a leader in sustainable tourism. Support food sustainability at Madison Children's Museum, home to Lunchbox, a pay-what-you-can cafe that champions reducing food waste. And learn how to reduce waste in your everyday life by shopping at Green Life Trading Co. (you can even build your own sustainable travel kit while you're there).

Are you ready to leave the world a little better than how you found it while you travel? We've made it easier than ever to find opportunities to give back while visiting Madison with our voluntourism portal, which includes an ever-growing list of visitor-friendly volunteer opportunities from lake cleanups to food pantry support and a whole lot more.

Jump around to learn more about sustainability in Madison:

Green Life Trading Co. makes it easy to reduce waste with its refillable home and cosmetic products. Just bring a reusable container (or buy one onsite) and fill up on everything you need.

A tradition of sustainability

Madison has been home to environmental pioneers including Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson, who founded Earth Day. And it will always be a home for visitors who want the way they explore, eat, shop and sleep to match their mindset.

Back to top.

Designed with sustainability in mind

You can find reminders throughout the city of how Madison champions sustainability. Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace is a LEED Platinum Level certified convention center with an incredible view of Lake Monona, making it a star on our iconic skyline. The City of Madison had the first all-electric fire truck in the U.S. and Madison Metro introduced three all-electric buses into its fleet in summer 2022.

As 1 of only 5 Platinum-Level Bike-Friendly Communities in the U.S., Madison embraces biking as more than a hobby. Biking in Madison is easy to do with help from BCycle electric bike rental stations. For a full Madison biking experience, sign up for Madison By Bike: your guide to four rides and four vibes.

Back to top.

Shop, sip and savor with a purpose

Sustainable living in Madison goes beyond nature. Our community has embraced taking care of the Earth, and each other, by baking sustainability into our shopping and dining experiences. 

Take for instance, the more than 100 thrift shops, flea markets, antique stores and more that inspire secondhand shopping. Or the largest producer-only farmers' market in the country that provides locally-grown food to the masses every weekend. And the grain-to-glass mentality of several of our craft beverage makers that ensures locally-produced ingredients don't go to waste. 

Back to top.