Eco Indy: Indiana’s Sustainable City

San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle are all US cities you think of immediately as “green” towns, but what about Indianapolis?   In 2008 the mayor of Indianapolis established the Office of Sustainability, with the task of becoming the most sustainable city in the Midwest.  It was evident from the first day we explored the city that huge strides were made to keep Indy clean & green.  Neighborhood programs were created making even the city center feel more like home and there were several initiatives helping Indianapolis strive to become the most sustainable city in the Midwest.  I was so impressed with the restaurants, transportation and conservation that was being made better by the community.  Here are some of my favorite Eco-friendly efforts making for a sustainable Indianapolis.

Eco Eats

Your appetite won’t be disappointed with all the responsible food choices in the city.  There are dozens of places to choose from if you are looking for a more green restaurant scene with local and organic options.  I’ll admit that I was thinking at first we would find more unhealthy, fried food choices and outdated menu items, but each place we tried had fresh ingredients and unique options.  I’m always happy to take a preconceived notion and prove it wrong when I visit a place for myself.  Seeing how committed the restaurants were to local food choices was impressive and throughout the course of the weekend I didn’t have one bad meal.

sustainable indianapolis gardens

Farm to table

Bringing southern Italy to the Midwest, Napolese makes sensational artisanal pizzas sourcing unique and tasty local ingredients.  It felt like we were back in Southern Italy and the service was outstanding.

Eat great while feeling great?  Public Greens is an urban kitchen dedicated to serving delicious locally grown foods while their profits go towards assisting food insecure children within their community through the Patachou Foundation.  This “kitchen with a mission” has a micro-farm and features local produce and humanely sourced proteins on their menu.

Slow food

WHAT is slow food???  I’m a big fan of the “slow” movement, slow food, slow travel.  Essentially the concept is food that is grown from healthy, good sources and that is good for you.  The Slow Food movement started in Italy in the 80’s as sort of a protest to the fast food restaurant take over and now over 132 countries participate in Slow Food International.  Slow Food Indy has a great list of participants that include restaurants, shops and farms.  My two personal favorites I tried were Bluebeard and The Garden Table.

City Garden

Outside of the City Market there are different herbs & spice plants growing in large planters that are sprinkled around the micro park spaces.  Once the parsley, peppers, or basil is ready to pick it is open to anyone who would like to take them and the vendors at the market also have access to these ingredients.

There is also a community garden along the White River State Park, as well as several other locations throughout the city, run by a non profit, Growing Places Indy.  They have urban agriculture plots that serve families in CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), restaurateurs and grocers.  It is such a treat to for me to be in a city but yet still have all of this green space available for public use.


The Indianapolis Zoo highlights conservation as one of their priorities as well as educating attendees about issues in the environment that effect animal populations and what we can do to ensure safety of species.  This zoo is unique in that they have a large population of rescued or rehabilitated animals.  Not only do they participate in projects within the zoo walls, they are active contributors to things like an African Elephant project protecting animal migration patterns from poachers, helping in the International Iguana Foundation, and partnering with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, one of the world’s leading conservation organizations.  The zoo has made changes towards renewable energy, recycling and eco initiatives to become a greener location.

I’m always an advocate for animals being in the wild, but can respect when a location is doing their part to educate, conduct research and promote conservation in addition to captive animal exhibits.


Green Transportation

Blue Indy

Blue Indy is an electric car program you can find throughout downtown.  They are easy to rent either on the spot at the kiosk or ahead of time online. They are convenient, reasonably priced and did I mention how cute and tiny they are?

Bike Share

Much like the car kiosks found throughout town, there is a city bike program that is in conjunction with the extensive bike lanes that run through the city, 29 stations in all.

Cultural Trail via Facebook

Cultural Trail

Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a well marked, 8 mile, well connected trails that you can access 6 cultural districts by foot or by bike.  The bike share kiosks are along the trail routes making it easy to use and there are public art projects along the way making for a scenic trail.

Local First, Making a Sustainable Indianapolis

Indiana residents are proud of their local resources and for good reason.  They are prominently promoting local artisans, farmers, craftsman and businesses and are loyal to their locals.

People for Urban Progress, or PUP has done some amazing things with re purposing materials creating updated and fresh urban spaces as well as creating accessories and apparel for purchase.  I think one of my favorites was the reused stadium seats that they upcycled to bus stop seating and public rest areas.

There are mini free libraries that are popping up in town, and as an avid reader I’m in love with this idea.  We had seen several kids sitting near the bookshelves skimming through stories and it was so nice to see the books are plentiful, in good condition and are in frequent use.  The concept is great, take a book & if you want, leave a book.  Find out if there are free little libraries in your neighborhood! 


A special thanks to Visit Indy , Visit Indiana and JW Marriott for being such wonderful hosts and sponsors, although all opinions written were completely my own.  In addition, a thank you to BlogHouse for a spectacular workshop.


  1. Reply

    Indy is probably the most underrated city in the US. I moved to Indy a year ago because I was priced out of Austin and it has been the best decision of my life.

    Love Indy!

    1. Reply
      Speck on the Globe Post author

      I could see how living there would be a good choice. I realized that I held onto some serious preconceived notions about the Midwest and was happy to find I was wrong about a lot of them… it was such a spectacular city!

  2. Reply

    Absolutely love your take on the city and sustainability. Perhaps even more of a myth buster than our culinary posts! Well done!!

    1. Reply
      Speck on the Globe Post author

      Thanks!! I’m happy we had a chance to see such good sides of the city!

  3. Reply
    Lisa Lubin

    Yes! Love this angle and it’s so true and often overlooked about Indy. They’ve really amped up their sustainability game. Their airport is also green and the only one to win LEED certification for an entire terminal campus. Loved meeting you!

    1. Reply
      Speck on the Globe Post author

      I didn’t realize they are LEED certified – add it to the ever growing list! So nice meeting you too & thanks for introducing us to such a great town!

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