San Francisco is America’s Least Wasteful City

30Jun09

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Finally, San Francisco takes first place in another battle of the cities! If you’ve been keeping track, San Francisco is the 2nd Most Photo-Friendly City, the 3rd Most Creative City in the World, and 3rd Best City in the World to Live. All very respectful finishes considering the stiff competition, and it may be even more impressive being that no other city has finished so high across all the studies, but no one remembers the one who finishes in second place.

The America’s Least Wasteful Cities study sponsored by Nalgene surveyed individuals in the top 25 metropolitan cities in the United States and came to the conclusion that San Francisco is America’s Least Wasteful City.

The study questioned a total 3,750 individuals, gauging behavior on waste, sustainability efforts, shopping habits, transportation and reusing items. The results were weighted to give more credit to behaviors that had immediate and significant impact on the planet (such as driving less, recycling more and reducing trash) to small habits that are more indicative of a mindset and non-wasteful approach to life (reusing containers, limiting shower time or saving wrapping paper and ribbons.)

San Francisco ranked in first place overall, with a score of 1025.25, which was 20 points higher than second place New York City. So take that, NY! Three California cities cracked the top 25, which were San Francisco, Sacramento (17th), and Los Angeles (5th). Now, that’s all fine and dandy that California is represented so well, but LA would be the last city I would have expected to crack the top 25, let alone top 5!

Seriously, when you think of LA do you picture recycling hippies, a leading green movement, trash-free streets, or the use of public transportation? Probably not. Most likely you picture this:

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Which results in these clear  blue murky brown skies:

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Okay with all to due respect LA did place 2nd in using rain barrels and limiting showers to 5 minutes or less, and I guess people do use public transportation since they placed 3rd in that category as well. Hm, I bet no one else expected that! I know it would make more sense to make fun of NY for finishing in 2nd place behind San Francisco, but it’s just easier to keep making fun of our Southern California mates.

Overall San Francisco finished in 1st place in multiple categories, including recycling, reusing wrapping paper, turning off water while brushing teeth, and avoiding driving for trips that are less than 2 miles from home (I try to avoid driving completely). One statistic that threw me off was placing 2nd for buying bulk food to avoid extra packaging. With only a handful of super mega market grocery stores and Costcos, I find this one hard to believe. Throw in the fact that as a city San Franciscans love to shop locally for fresh products, and this one really doesn’t make sense.

Frankly, I’m not surprised San Francisco took the top prize and I would have been shocked at any other result. Using my very meticulous and scientific observations (people watching) it’s easy to see that people here hate to litter and love to recycle, as evidenced by all the beautiful pristine public spaces and love for all things secondhand. Maybe if they counted all the bums as litter the results would be different. Zing!

Also check out:
San Francisco is the 2nd Most Photo-Friendly City
San Francisco 3rd Most Creative City in the World
San Francisco 3rd Best City in the World to Live

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2 Responses to “San Francisco is America’s Least Wasteful City”

  1. congrats!

    but hey, play nice 🙂

  2. I’m so glad our fair city won first in this! Definitely something to be proud of. I’m surprised we don’t get more points for composting–I feel like we’re pretty good at that too.


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