states with the least pollution

Many of us could use a break right about now, but with fewer places to go, it's hard to know where to go on vacation that won't leave us feeling like we're bringing dirt back home with us.

Where can you find the cleanest states to visit?

Many of us could use a break, but with fewer places to go, it's been difficult to book one. At the same time, many of us are wary of visiting unfamiliar places at a time when cleanliness is more important than ever.  

While on vacation, the last thing anyone wants is to be subjected to a squalor. We travel to get away from our daily routines and stresses, not to be subjected to conditions that are even less desirable than those we leave behind at home. Whether you're looking for fresh air or a spotless beach, the local community's commitment to cleanliness is likely to have a significant impact on your vacation experience.

We were hoping that learning which states are the cleanest would put worried travelers at ease. We've taken into account a variety of metrics that together can show how spotless each state is and come up with a single score to do so.  

Is your state of choice for vacationing successful? How about the rest of the country? Does your state rank low? See the breakdown in our table below.

Most pristine states

    1 California Rating for Tidiness: 7 36

With an overall cleanliness rating of 7, California stands out as the cleanest state. 36 It would appear that Californians are environmentally conscious, as the state ranks highly in the adoption of electric vehicles. This aids in lowering the state's overall air pollution levels, which is especially helpful in congested urban areas.

    2 Hawaii Overall Tidiness Rating: 6 94

Hawaii comes in at number two with a tidiness rating of 6. 94 Due to its isolation from the mainland United States, Hawaii enjoys a constant supply of fresh ocean air. Pollution levels are low because of the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

    3 Washington Rating for Tidiness: 6 40

With a perfect score of 6, Washington tops the list as the cleanest state in the country. 40 Washington is a great place to enjoy clean air and low pollution levels because its population density is lower than many other states.

Top ten dirtiest states

    1 Kentucky Rating for Tidiness: 2 12

With a dismal 2-point total, Kentucky was dead last among the 50 states. 12 This state may not be the best option if you're hoping for a spotless, rejuvenating vacation.

    2 Tennessee Rating for Tidiness: 2 20

Among all states, Tennessee has the second-worst cleanliness rating, at just 2. 20 Tennessee consistently ranks near the bottom due to low recycling rates, poor air quality, and low adoption of electric vehicles.

    3 Mississippi Overall Tidiness Rating: 2 25

Mississippi scored a dismal 2 out of a possible 10 for cleanliness, placing it third from last. 25 overall With a low recycling rate, poor air quality, and little interest in using hand sanitizer, this state is near the bottom of the pack nationally.

Most prolific recyclers among the states

    1 Maine The recycling rate is 74%.

Maine has the highest recycling rate in the country, at 74% of CCPM (common container and packaging materials). Less raw materials are used in the manufacturing process, and pollution is reduced when waste is kept in circulation.

    2 Oregon Average percentage of recyclables: 66%

With a rate of 66%, Oregon has the second-highest CCPM recycling rate in the United States. This contributes to the state's effort to maintain clean streets and waterways.

    3 Connecticut A whopping 63% of waste is recycled.

Statewide, 63% of CCPMs are recycled in Connecticut, making it the third-best recycling rate in the country.

Where air quality is highest and lowest

    1 Hawaii The AQI for the air quality is 21. 2

With an AQI of 21, Hawaii is the state with the best air quality. The pollutant index is low, at 2, indicating that residents need not worry about their health due to exposure to the air here. Due to Hawaii's location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the state's air is constantly being renewed by the wind from the ocean.

    2 Alaska The AQI for the air quality is 29. 1

Alaska, the northernmost state, had the second-best air quality index (AQI) score, at 29. 1 For a state of its size and population density, Alaska has remarkably clean air compared to the rest of the United States.

    3 Washington Currently, the AQI for the air in your area is 33. 5

When it comes to air quality, Washington ranks third thanks to its AQI of 33. 5 Air quality in Washington state is already high thanks to the Pacific Ocean breezes, and the state's relatively high adoption of electric vehicles further improves the situation. This may indicate that Washingtonians are more concerned about pollution than the national average.

These are the top ten states for EV adoption.

    1 California Sales of electric vehicles as a percentage of the market: 7 84%

To date, 7 percent of all registered vehicles in California are electric vehicles, making it the state with the highest rate of EV adoption in the country. Eighty-four percent of the car industry California is already home to many of the world's leading technology companies, so it makes sense that the state would be an early adopter of this innovation.

    2 Washington Share of the market for electric vehicles, 4% 28%

The state of Washington has the second-highest EV ownership rate, with 4 out of every 100 registered vehicles being electric. Market share within the state at 28%

    3 Oregon Share of the market for electric vehicles: 3 41%

The percentage of electric vehicle sales in Oregon is 3.0, ranking it third highest in the country. 41% This proves that Western states are the most eager to replace diesel and gasoline cars with electric ones.

In states where corruption is kept to a minimum

    1 California 1360 requests for hand sanitizer per 100 000

In the past year, there were 1,360 searches for "hand sanitizer" for every 100,000 people in California. This suggests that Californians place a high value on their own health and cleanliness, making it less likely that you will catch a contagious disease from touching public surfaces.

    2 New Jersey 1317 Google searches for "hand sanitizer" for every 100,000

For some reason, after California, 1317 searches are conducted for hand sanitizer for every 100,000 residents in New Jersey. For those who take public transportation, this is reassuring news, as their fellow riders are more likely to be clean and aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy public hygiene environment.

    3 New York 1272 requests for hand sanitizers for every 100,000

With 1,272 searches per 100,000 people, New York ranked third for interest in hand sanitizer. One of the best ways to maintain good personal hygiene is to always wash your hands after using them.


We were curious as to which states have the best reputations for cleanliness and which have the worst. In order to accomplish this, we considered a wide range of variables that might be used to compare the cleanliness of the 50 states.

To begin, we analyzed recycling statistics from a Eunomia report that compared recycling rates across the 50 states for a variety of CCPM. We were then able to compare recycling rates across states.

The next thing we did was check each state's air quality. World Population Review provided us with the AQI rating for each state, letting us know how healthy the air was to breathe. Based on the results, we were able to place the states in order of their AQI ratings.

We also took each state's EV adoption rate into account. We were able to compare the states based on the percentage of licensed drivers who own electric vehicles using data from This allowed us to create a ranking of the states based on their adoption of EVs.

Finally, we tracked the year-over-year demand for hand sanitizer across the 50 states by recording the total number of Google Keyword Planner queries in each region. We then divided that number by the total population of each state to get the rate at which people in each were searching for "hand sanitizer." This provides valuable insight into the degree to which residents of each state prioritize their health and cleanliness.

Each of the aforementioned criteria was assigned a normalized score out of ten for each state, and then the four scores were averaged to produce a final cleanliness score.

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