Green Travel Magzine

From Garments to Groceries: Sustainable Shopping in San Francisco

San Francisco has long been recognized as a leader among environmentally-conscious American cities for the sustainable policies which have been implemented in the city’s function and the concerned population that engages in daily action to combat climate change. Not only is San Francisco actively striving to achieve zero-waste status through a city-wide recycling program, but out of the 900,000 tons of waste discarded annually, it diverts a greater amount to reuse than to landfill. San Francisco has prohibited the use of plastic bags in favor of reusable totes and roughly 77% of municipal waste is recycled, reducing waste sent to landfills by over 1.6 million tons

The bustling hub for artists and tech-entrepreneurs alike has incorporated an eco-friendly mindset into all aspects of living, including making the commitment that all new construction will run on 100% renewable energy by 2030, encouraging the enrollment of residents in CleanPowerSF, and introducing businesses whose values align with sustainable sourcing and production to the consumer industry. In fact, conscious travelers visiting San Francisco will enjoy a variety of responsible and ethical shopping experiences, from garments to groceries. Check out the businesses highlighted below, and don’t forget your reusable bag! 

Amour Vert

woman lifting bag outdoor plants chain fence faded colored wall
Source: Forbes

Amour Vert is setting a sustainable standard for the fashion industry. Not only does the brand differentiate itself by partnering directly with mills to develop sustainable fabrics rather than purchasing pre-made products, but Amour Vert has also pioneered an initiative titled Tees for Trees. In partnership with American Forests, a non-profit conservation organization, Amour Vert commits to one tree for every purchased tee-shirt and has planted 354,000 in North America since the brand’s inception in 2010. Amour Vert’s website even showcases a map depicting locations where trees have been planted and what conservation projects within those regions the initiative has helped to serve. As explained by the brand’s website, 354,000 planted trees equate to 31,948 cars removed from the road, 12 billion gallons of water replenished, and 1,763 acres reforested. The company cares about its environmental impact from the creation of fabric to the order’s arrival on a customer’s doorstep. Amour Vert was one of the first brands to utilize compostable bags to store and ship garments, exclusively uses packaging made from recycled materials, and has replaced 137,206 plastic poly bags since 2018. 

AllBirds

grey converse shoe stepping stone yellow white red flowers jeans
Source: greenqueen.com

Although AllBirds has taken the footwear world by storm, with stores in New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and London, the brand is based in San Francisco. Following the realization that the fashion industry emits 2.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year, the equivalent pollution of 456,707,817 cars, AllBirds was created to model how “better business” can emphasize sustainability at its core and redefine the fashion industry. AllBirds footwear is designed using natural materials including wool, tree, sugar, and Trino (a combination of renewable materials) and the company measures its carbon footprint “from the factory floor to the lights in HQ”. AllBirds even has an aspiration to reduce beyond carbon neutrality and become climate positive through regenerative agriculture, renewable materials, and responsible energy. The brand was established as a certified Public Benefit Corporation in 2016, became a carbon neutral business in 2019, and has throughout its history developed sustainable footwear products that are both practical and esteemed for their environmental conscience. 

Rainbow Grocery Cooperative

fresh produce grocery aisle peppers tomatoes pineapple grocery store interior
Source: travel.sygic.com

Rainbow Grocery Cooperative has been a San Francisco staple since 1975 and is focused on providing vegetarian products with minimal environmental impact and high ethical concern. Rainbow Grocery is a certified San Francisco Green Business and extends cooperative-wide standards to individual employees who are annually elected to serve on the Ecology Committee. The Committee educates workers and customers on sustainable living and devices measures that Rainbow Grocery can take to further minimize environmental impact. Rainbow Grocery has implemented methods for waste reduction, composting, and water conservation in addition to utilizing a daylight harvesting system and functioning on 100% renewable energy through CleanPowerSF, which uses wind and solar power. Rainbow Grocery offers a variety of organic, locally-sourced products with the goal of supporting sustainable farmers, bakers, and dairy businesses in addition to providing affordable vegetarian products which have a minimal ecological impact. 

Olive This, Olive That

various olive fruits and leaves green purple
Source: the spanishgrocery.com

Olive This, Olive That provides a curated selection of organic, local, sustainable oils and balsamic vinegars for your next culinary creation. The gourmet grocery store supports California-based small growers and has maintained connections with family farms due to a mutual investment in minimizing carbon footprint. Olive This, Olive That also allows for the reuse and refilling of used olive oil bottles and provides a $2 discount incentive for customers. Interested buyers can also participate in the stores seasonal Olive Oil and Vinegar Club, browse the website for recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts, and read about harvest season and events on the blog

Tonlé

woman in green dress leans on shoulder of another woman in white dress dark fabrics textiles
Source: Tonle

The zero-waste, fair fashion brand Tonlé strives to use regenerative production practices to mitigate the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Through a zero-waste process, the brand develops clothing and accessories derived from materials that would otherwise be considered waste. Tonlé uses remnant pre-consumer textiles from large garment factories in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, creates designs from large pieces of that reclaimed fabric, and individually sews the scraps into yarn which is then knit into new pieces. Any remaining waste that is produced from this circular process is combined with recycled office paper to make handmade paper. Tonlé’s careful consideration of each step in the production process “shows that waste is only truly waste when it gets wasted”. Due to the limited fabric usage, Tonlé pieces are unique and can be shopped on the store website at https://tonle.com/collections/all-items

Bi-Rite Market

grocery store interior deli cheese ice cream signs bananas oranges apples
Source: sfgate.com

Bi-Rite Market is a beloved San Francisco institution focused on creating community through food. The market is striving to become a zero-waste company, currently recycling or reusing 90% of its products and materials. Shoppers should be sure to taste Bi-Rite’s famous Balsamic Strawberry and Roasted Banana ice cream flavors, both of which are made with imperfect fruit that would otherwise be composted. The chefs in the Market kitchen take the extra step when creating meals, utilizing imperfect produce for dinner and broken cookies for sundae toppings. Bi-Rite Market’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond food as the company seeks to minimize environmental impact in all aspects of business function. In 2017, more than 800,000 pounds of waste were diverted from landfills through a combination of composting and recycling, the Market saves 63,495 kilowatts of energy annually through the use of LED lighting, and encourages customers to take small action in support of the store’s environmental mission through B.Y.O.B: Bring Your Own Bag! 

 

ecomadic is a sustainable tourism brand that empowers travelers to make more conscious decisions. By curating a marketplace to easily find and identify responsible businesses to support, and providing educational publications through our online green travel magazine, ecomadic is committed to helping empower travelers make responsible choices throughout their journeys.


Want to learn more?

Sustainability – Amour Vert 

Allbirds Sustainability Guide – Allbirds

It’s Great to be Green! – Rainbow Grocery 

About Us – Olive This, Olive That 

What is Zero-Waste Fashion? – Tonlé

San Francisco’s Quest to Make Landfill Obsolete – Politico 

Sustainability in San Francisco – North America Outlook 

The Top 5 Reasons Why San Francisco is California’s Sustainable City – Culture Trip

Commitment to Sustainability – Bi Rite 

 


Caroline Rispoli
Caroline is a passionate traveler whose interest in sustainability began with a trip to Scandinavia. She currently attends university in Boston, Massachusetts where she studies a major in Political Science and International Affairs and a minor in Urban Studies. Attending school in Boston has made Caroline fall in love with city-living, and in her free time she can be found hiking, running, exploring, or planning her next adventure!