Is San Francisco the World’s Greenest City? Jared Blumenfeld of the SF Department of the Environment describes some of San Francisco’s innovative green initiatives, from zero waste to banning plastic bags.
Lorna Li (LL): Hi there Im Lorna Li from Green Marketing 2.0. On camera is Steve Morozumi from SFenthusiast.com.
Jared Blumenfeld (JB): Go Steve!
LL: We are talking to Jared Blumenfeld the Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment
Jared Blumenfeld: Hi Lorna.
LL: Hey, howre you doing?
JB: Good, and you?
LL: Great! So let me tell you, I read a great book, Garbage Land written by Elizabeth Royte where you make a cameo appearance. And
JB: Sweet! I havent read that, so thats good.
LL: Yeah! And the amazing thing that I discovered about San Francisco from that book is that we apparently have a landfill diversion rate of over 50%. Is that true?
JB: Since San Francisco set a goal of getting to zero waste by 2020 so no waste at all going to landfill. And today were at 72% recycling rate. So, way beyond 50, were going to 75 by the year 2010.
LL: Wow. Thats fantastic. So would you say that San Francisco is one of the greenest cities in the United States?
JB: Were trying to be. I mean, its a competition we want everyone to win. Because the greener every other city is, the greener the planet is. We cant do it on our own. So San Franciscos goal is to set model policies that others can follow. Weve got a lot great politicians, great constituents, great businesses that are all wanting to be green who are here in West Coast Green in San Francisco. So the point is if San Francisco cant be green, then its very hard for anyone else to be. So if we can ban plastic bags, we can ban Styrofoam, then others are like Yeah, thats not so hard. San Francisco did it and then they could do it too
San Francisco wanted to create an environment code to legally set out our policies so they werent just nice ideas or some target. We wanted them to have a blinding effect. So the first chapter, we now have 20 chapters, the first chapter was to cover the precautionary principle which basically says We need to look at not how much harm is allowable, but how little harm is possible
So then we did a law on pesticides, reducing.. Weve eliminated all the most toxic pesticides in San Francisco and gotten rid of the rest. Really, we only have 20% of what we used to have. The PGA, President Obamas coming next week for the biggest golf tournament in the US. Therell be virtually no pesticides that were used on that.
The California academy of science has a LEAD platinum building. And now were saying that every building build in San Francisco from the smallest house to the largest skyscraper, has to be LEAD gold. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, we have a seven thousand dollar credit for everyone that put solar on their home. We spend probably about seven million dollars a year helping small businesses save energy through energy efficiency, so all these things are pretty landmark. On recycling, we just passed a law to make composting and recycling mandatory, so every single entity in this city now has to do both those things and now will hopefully get us from 72% to 80% in the next few years. So were really pushing the envelope to try and get businesses, residents, and city government to work together to get real results for the environment; not just redirect results.
LL: So Jared, tell me. Does going green have to cost more money?
JB: We live in a society thats governed by money. No matter what happened on the economic crisis of last year, if it isnt any cheaper and easier, people arent going to do it. They really arent. So until you can show someone how to save money through energy efficiency, through renewable energy, through using less toxic chemicals in their cleaning products, no ones going to do it. You maybe get 5, 10%… You really need to move both the incentives of the government level and the demand of the public to a place where its easier and cheaper to be green.
LL: Great. Thank you so much for your time Jared.
JB: That was it? God I mean, yeah we took so long to get here, Lorna; spent so many hours together and now, because of Steves miscalculation on the tape
LL: Were now down to the last three minutes of the tape.. Thanks so much Lorna Li from Green Marketing 2.0.
JB: I should say that. Thanks Lorna Li, Green Marketing 2.0.
LL: Thanks Jared, San Francisco Department of the Environment. With Steve Morozumi on camera from sfenthusiast.com covering West Coast Green.