Filed under: environmental issues, san francisco | Tags: netzero energy, netzero waste, san francisco
I have to admit, it’s pretty easy being green in San Francisco. They’re leading the country in enforcing environmental laws & policies and the general population goes out of their way to make it a priority. For example, they pick up recycling (of basically everything that can be recycled) and compost for all residents & some apartments (hopefully all in the coming months). It all goes out with the trash; you just need to make sure you put it in the right container. Most of the compost goes to farmers and wine growers locally. The city has set the goal of 75% landfill diversion by 2010 and NetZero waste by 2020. To date we’re diverting 69%, so we’re well on our way. (http://www.sfenvironment.org/our_programs/program_info.html?ssi=3&ti=) They’ve banned all plastic bags in grocery stores & stores as of October 1, 2007. They take nearly 1,000 years to breakdown in landfills and cost the city of San Francisco $8 million in clean-up annually from the streets and the bay. Now most people bring their own reusable bags (they’re sold at every grocery store) and the store gives you a discount. If you forget you can still use a paper bag, but hopefully we’ll eventually follow Europe’s lead and start charging extra for those to encourage everyone to bring their own. California will require NetZero energy residences by 2020 and net zero commercial buildings by 2030. This means every building would be required to use sustainable energy sources through energy efficient design using solar panels, day lighting, wind energy, etc. Any fossil fuels you use would have to be offset. All construction waste is required to be taken to a recycling facility where the sort the trash. Currently, they are able to recycle about 65% of it. (http://www.sfrecycling.com/pdf/RecycleTodayFall2006.pdf) I also have no car. The public transportation system is extensive and I can get everywhere I need to be without one. It’s nice to live somewhere where people make the environment a priority. That’s all great for me, but what about everyone else?
There are still lots of easy things everyone can be doing:
1. Bring your own bags to the grocery store and all the other stores you go to. There are so many nice ones on the market now! (check out ones like these: http://www.delight.com/Envirosax-Delightfully-Pretty-Reusable-Grocery-Bags or www.reusablebags.com )
2. Carpool as much as you can, take the bus or walk. It’s great exercise for you & good for the environment.
3. Switch your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent and save energy and money on your electric bill.
4. Recycle! If your house or apartment doesn’t provide recycling there are always city facilities that you can drop stuff off at. Sometimes you can even get money for it.
5. Support local businesses so they don’t have to pay for the resources required to widely distribute their products.
6. Support environmentally friendly businesses and products
7. Turn the lights out when you leave a room. Only turn on what’s necessary.
-Rebecca, San Francisco
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