Lessons learned from the “greenest” city in America

After traveling to San Fran on vacation over the holiday, I was super impressed by seeing the city that is a hub for green initiatives! After doing some research, I found out that San Francisco was actually rated the greenest city by a Siemens research study.

Here are a few observations I found (and later researched) that contribute to their greenness.

San Francisco City Line

Massive littering fines!

Let’s face it, people will not litter if you fine them $1,000. You go ahead, flick that cigarette butt out the window. However, don’t be surprised when a police officer pulls you over and fines you a very large amount. Driving around on San Fran highways, I was in shock to see signs stating this large penalty.

Walking penalties are much less (up to $100), and go up exponentially (up to $500 for a third offense). But still, who has that much money to spare?

Instead, there seemed to be a plethora or recycle receptacles around so trash doesn’t end up on the street.

Cheap, easy and safe public transportation means fewer cars, less emission.Bikers in San Francisco

Whether you are taking a bus, trolley, the local underground transport or the Bay Area train that brings people in from the suburbs, there are a million and one ways to get around. They even give them cute names too like “Muni” (Municipal Transport) and “Bart” (Bay Area Rapid Transport).

The ‘non-eating’ policy allows for clean tunnel trains. The Muni runs 24/7 and always seemed pretty safe (although I did all my travels with a big strong man). And the Bart runs until somewhere around midnight.

Prius’ galore!

I have literally never seen so many Prius’ in one area in my life, and many of them are Taxis. After some investigation, I found that the San Fran government gives taxi companies financial incentives to go green, and as of 2010, over half of all taxi vehicles were hybrid, according to a San Francisco Gate article.

Local Cuisine San Francisco Local cuisine is king.

SF locals really seem to enjoy supporting local agriculture and business. There are many places around that offer local fare. As I mentioned in an earlier article, eating local is a sustainable process by reducing emissions related to transportation costs.

Also, the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, which is located in (you guessed it!) the Ferry Building, is awesome! There is all kinds of produce, nuts, cheese, bread, prepared food and artisan snacks. Travel and Leisure magazine ranks this farmers market as one of the best in the country and pointed out that well-known chefs even come to cook there.

Enforcing green practices in homes.

Starting this year, San Francisco will impose a two-prong green building system to encourage less consumption and better building practices, according to a San Francisco Gate article. This includes monitoring residents’ consumption and imposing green building requirements for a more sustainable way of living.

State-of-the-art recycling system.

The city of San Francisco seems to make it really easy for people to recycle. Businesses and residents both have hefty recycling receptacles. Also, they take everything. In their rather comical recycling commercial, they tell residents give them their “old pickle jars” and “used shampoo bottles.”

It has proven to be such an effective system, that 69 percent of the city’s waste is recycled, according to Your Green Report newscast. And they hope to increase that number to 85 percent.

Just to put the cherry on top of this story, they fuel their recycling facility with solar power.

High five San Fran, I miss you already.

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Categories: Eco-Friendly Things, Sustainable Travel


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4 Comments on “Lessons learned from the “greenest” city in America”

  1. January 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I love this post! And I love this city! A couple other things — SFO also has the ‘greenest’ terminal in the US, according to Travel and Leisure and others (link below). And shout out to Trader Joe’s, which is like a mini Whole Foods at a fraction of the price. I do wish the city would do a better job of promoting/enforcing FasTrak, the speed toll service. The traffic getting to the Bay Bridge at 5 p.m. is enough to make you want to leave your Prius on the side of the road and walk. Those kind of jams can’t be enviro-friendly, green cars or not.



  2. January 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    The airport was really fast and efficient – probably the best airport I have been to.

    The traffic is crazy at that time everywhere in the city!

  3. Michellehilsonnnn
    January 20, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    Love this post! And love my city!! You and Robbie need to move yourselves out here asapppppp!<3

  4. SFGator
    February 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Good article.

    BART may appear clean but, the seats are rather disgusting.


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