First off, I should mention that I’m a HUGE environmentalist… I don’t litter, I turn off my car rather than letting it idle for long periods of time, and I’m a big proponent of recycling, reusing, and not wasting precious resources. In short, I’m about as “green” as they come… or so I thought until I moved to Seattle.
There are actually laws here demanding that everyone separate their recyclables from their garbage. If you fail to do so, there are stiff fines to pay. Some of the locals I've talked to claim this to be more than a bit extreme, but others tell me that they've never actually known anyone to get fined. Either way, I think it’s great that the citizens of Washington are, at the very least, encouraged to make the planet a better/greener place by recycling, even if it is enforced by the law.
Another big difference here on the West Coast is that you have to bring your own reusable bags to the grocery stores. Well, you don’t HAVE to, but if you don’t, expect to pay a nickel each for paper sacks. I've only seen plastic bags used in a small handful of places so far.
I visited a national pharmacy chain store the other day and noticed something unusual to me in the parking lot… a charging station for an electric car! How innovative! I’m not yet sure how many businesses here have these, but I have seen one in EVERY parking lot that belongs to this chain.
After talking with people about public transportation, I discovered that most people that do have cars still park at a transit center and ride a bus the rest of the way.
Overall, people seem to be a lot more environmentally conscience here on the West Coast, as opposed to the Midwest.