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San Francisco: One of the Greenest Cities in the World

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San Francsco Hill_Mike KThe following guest post is by Anne Staley, an environmentalist who likes to express her thoughts and beliefs through the written word. Her motto in life is to better the lives of others through the knowledge she shares. She loves nature and urges her readers to go green. She shares her thoughts through creative writing and blogs. Her email is annestaley19@gmail.com

I’ve been to San Francisco many times. But everytime I set foot inside the city, I’m amazed at its beauty, freshness and vibrancy. Whenever I return, my love for the city is renewed.

What’s not to love about San Francisco? It has tolerant residents; great weather; the rolling hills that surround it; the quaint cable cars that crisscross the city. The charming Al-fresco cafes; Fishermen’s Wharf; Golden Gate Bridge; its buzzing nightlife, thriving art and culture scene, and its rich sporting tradition.

Everything about the city makes you fall in love with it. For the environmentalist, there’s another reason to love San Francisco – its inclusion in a list of the 30 greenest cities on the planet. In fact, this is not the first time this type of honor. It frequently makes the cut to many such lists of greenest cities in the world and in the United States.

I am not surprised. After all, San Francisco has been a hot bed of environmental activity since well, since forever. It was here that one of the oldest and the most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the U.S., the Sierra Club, was founded in 1892. Since then, the city has continued unabated on the path of environmental activism.

What are some of the things that make San Francisco an environmental super-city? Here are a few of its outstanding achievements:

  • San Francisco was one of the first cities to launch a curbside recycling program in 1980. Curbside recycling went on to become one of the pillars of recycling programs across the country.
  • One of the most successful recycling programs in the U.S., the San Francisco Recycling Program diverts 77 percent of waste or obsolete materials away from landfills.
  • The city’s innovative recycling program employs an artist-at-residence, who uses his work to inspire and encourage people to recycle.
  • In 2007, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags – a move that helps prevent 100 million bags from being dumped into landfills every year.
  • The city’s GoSolar SF program provides incentives to home and business owners to install solar electricity systems in a bid to shrink its carbon footprint and reduce residents’ utility bills.
  • The city has rolled out the CleanPower SF program to sell electricity from local renewable sources to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and combat global warming.
  • SF Greasecycle is another innovative program that recycles used cooking oil, fat and grease from homes and restaurants and converts it into biofuel to run the city fleets.
  • The city’s Gigantic 3 drop-off service allows residents to dispose old and unwanted household items, including organic waste; large and bulky products; non-recyclable trash such as plastic bags, Styrofoam, etc.; and other special types of wastelike batteries, motor oils, florescent bulbs and tubes.
  • The city is systematically removing litter receptacles from various locations in a bid to reduce the amount of litter on its streets and sidewalks.

Clearly, recycling and environmental concern have become a part of San Francisco’s DNA. Not only does the city take pride in its environmental activism culture, but also makes it easy for residents to participate in it. So, whether you own a business or are a resident, don’t forget to:

  • Prevent waste by buying less or reusing more to support San Francisco’s goal of Zero Waste by 2020. You can find more tips on how to reduce waste here.
  • Recycle and compost everything that you can,including construction material. The city allows single-stream recycling and runs a number of other programs to encourage recycling among locals.
  • Recycle scrap metal by selling it to a junk yard in San Francisco. Niche recyclers like Sims Metal Management or private scrap yards can be approached to recycle scrap metal in San Francisco.
  • Save energy by switching to more energy efficient products and using renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydropower.
  • Get out of the car and get on a bike or switch to cleaner fuels and motor vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help stop global warming in its tracks.

You can do all this and much more to ensure that San Francisco retains its position as one of the greenest cities in the world. How is your city doing?

Image: San Francisco Hill by Mike K via Flickr

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Written by William DiBenedetto

26 May, 2014 at 8:36 am

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