1. Stay at a green hotel: San Francisco offers a growing selection of green-conscious hotels, with the LEED-certified Orchard Garden Hotel and the newly opened Good Hotel leading the way. When choosing a green hotel, look specifically at the hotel’s recycle/reuse programs, conservation efforts, and overall best practices.
2. Remember to “reduce, recycle, reuse”: Even if your hotel isn’t certified “green,” you can take it upon yourself to make a difference. Let the cleaning service know it’s not necessary to change your linens; bring your own water and toiletries; take shorter showers; turn off all lights when not in the room; and recycle/reuse on your own.
3. Use public transportation: San Francisco is served by a well-connected public-transportation system. Via Muni buses, light rail, cable cars, and BART, you’ll be able to reach most every destination on your list. Tip: Keep HopStop on your laptop/phone to help with directions and trip-planning.
4. Go walking: In addition to public-transit, there’s also walking in San Francisco. Even with its steep hills, this city was made for walking tours, with interesting sights, architecture, and people to see along the way. Before leaving for the city, look into self-guided audio tours like City Story Walks or Stroll San Francisco. Also, check out local guides, like the comprehensive Stairway Walks in San Francisco. As for the carbon emissions: zero.
5. Immerse in greenery: San Francisco has lovely greenery to experience year-round thanks to its immense Golden Gate Park (GGP), home to summer concerts, two major museums, a tea garden, an arboretum, two windmills, and the oldest existing public conservatory in North America.
6. The California Academy of Sciences: One of those major museums in GGP happens to be the green icon California Academy of Sciences, the only place in the world to have a planetarium, aquarium, and natural history museum all under one roof. The “living roof” is a marvel to be seen and the building itself stands a symbol in a green-conscious world, blending sustainable features seamlessly into a beautiful, natural setting.
7. Buy local: If you’re visiting the city over the weekend, definitely try and visit the Farmer’s Market at the historic Ferry Building. In addition, San Francisco is famed for its unique culinary style and most of the restaurants make it a point to buy local. By dining out, you’ll be supporting this too (as well as cutting down on the plastic used by hotels for room service).
8. Take a segway: San Francisco offers fun segway and bike tours for those who wish to cover a greater amount of the city in less time. Experience the waterfront, Palace of Fine Arts, and the marina all on a three-hour guided tour. Bring your camera!
9. Take (lots of) photographs: Yes, in San Francisco, you’ll no doubt find opportunity to take photos. This city is beautiful, from its vistas and hills, monuments and bridges, Victorians and cafes. What’s more, photo-taking paired with sightseeing is a totally green thing to do. Remember: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”
10. Speaking of footprints, try and reduce yours. Your carbon footprint that is: Likely the biggest environmental impact you’ll make is how you reach San Francisco. The amount of carbon emissions from a cross-country flight will be more than a month’s worth of driving. However, this aspect of the trip is pretty essential and as of now, an airborne alternative hasn’t yet been found. With this said, a lot of good can be done by minimizing your “footprint” while in-town and as you can see from the above, San Francisco offers plenty of ways to go about doing just that. Good luck!