San Francisco Issues ‘Green Approved’ List for Products and Services

More articles on the controversy surrounding bottled water can be found here!

Plenty of websites exist that list and evaluate “green” products.  Now more cities, including Seattle, are building lists of “approved” products and service providers.  San Francisco, however, has stepped it up a notch, and has released a comprehensive site that meets the City by the Bay’s environmental and health requirements.

Back in 2005 San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed legislation, The Precautionary Principle, which required its procurement officers to adhere to an approved list of environmentally preferable, or “green,” products.  Over the past few years, city employees vetted and tested products ranging from electronics to cleaning supplies to lighting equipment.

The result is, a guide that describes approximately 1000 green products that San Francisco’s municipal employees are allowed to buy under local ordinances.  The list also is available to San Francisco Green Businesses, a program that accredits businesses operating within the city that have met waste reduction, reduced pollution, and conservation standards. Local consumers who want their purchasing decisions to match their values could find value from SFApproved, as well.  For people in or outside San Francisco who want advice on new electronics, or would appreciate suggestions as to what automotive products they should use when checking under the hood of their cars, is a start.

Anyone accessing the site can do a keyword search:  city employees can determine whether such a product is suggested or not, and local green businesses can find out whether products are allowed, permitted for occasional use, or are prohibited from use.  Bottled water, T9 fluorescent light fixtures, and some nickel-cadmium batteries are no-no’s.

Some may dismiss this list as bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo.  But for consumers, this is a guide, not a bible. Its strengths lie in the fact that employees from various city departments have vetted these products, focusing on performance, environmental impact, and cost.  So whether you are a small business considering what stationery supplies to buy, or you need an energy-efficient laptop for your college-bound child, is a good point of reference.  On its FAQs section, the city also insists that the list is kept free from commercial influence.

Incidentally, the City and County of San Francisco issues annual reports detailing the amount and variety of green products city employees purchase.  You can access it here.  Does the city put its money where its mouth is?  Find out for yourself.

Leon Kaye has written for Triple Pundit since 2010 . He is the founder and editor of Based in Fresno, California, he is a business writer and strategic communications specialist. His work is has also appeared on The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).