The city of San Francisco has made it a bold goal to be waste-free by the year 2020. And guess what, they’re almost there. Composting has become as natural a part of the waste stream as recycling; with green compost bins standing alongside blue recycle bins throughout the city, there’s no excuse not to compost.
San Francisco was the first US city to ban plastic bags, and many restaurants use compostable cutlery and serve-ware for take-out orders. Almost 650 tons of organic material are collected every day, and brought to Recology’s facilities to be turned into compost. The compost is later sold to local organic farms and vineyards, closing up the loop.
By aiming to be the world’s first zero-waste city, San Francisco has become a role model for urban sustainability. It is for this reason, in addition to the countless sustainably-minded cafes and restaurants, and the beautiful scenery, that I believe San Francisco is the perfect spot for your next sustainable getaway.
Hours: M-F 7 AM-6 PM, Sa- Su 8 AM-6 PM
A quaint, neighborhood cafe and specialty grocer serving Four Barrel coffee, locally-made pastries, and sandwiches.
image by @mspcoffeeandthings
My favorite way to start off my day in San Francisco is at the Ferry building, where I get my almond milk latte to go (in my reusable Blue Bottle KeepCup, which you can buy right at the cafe), then head out back to enjoy my coffee with the most magnificent view of the Bay Bridge.
111 Minna St
Hours: M-F 7 AM- 5 PM, Closed Saturdays and Sundays
505 Howard St
Hours: M-F 7 AM- 6 PM, Closed Saturdays and Sundays
I love the vibe of this coffee shop, which feels like an art gallery, and both of its two locations are just a few blocks away from buzzy Market Street. It is a great place to hang out and get some work done over a perfect cup of coffee and avocado toast.
A fair-trade, third wave coffee company with a deep commitment to and passion for offering the best possible coffee experience. You can grab a cup of coffee to go at San Francisco’s plant emporium, Flora Grubb Gardens, before setting off to find yourself a new plant child.
Russian Hill | 2340 Polk St
Hours: M-Sa 6:30 AM-6 PM
South of Market | 1081 Mission St
Hours: M-F 7 AM-5 PM, Sa 8 AM-3 PM, Closed Sundays
A coffee company dedicated to developing relationships with small-scale farmers, as well as to creating a beautiful gathering space where people can connect. They have two locations, and their cafes are designed with a minimalistic, Scandinavian aesthetic.
Where to Eat
Mission District | 3338 24th St
Hours: M-F 8 AM- 10 PM, Weekends 8 AM- 12 AM
A healthy cafe serving tea, fresh juices, smoothies, herbal lattes, and light fare options including stuffed delicata squash, quinoa bowls, and some raw vegan sweets. The seek to foster community and frequently host workshops that encourage healthy, intentional living.
Mission District | 1199 Valencia St
Hours: M-F 5:30 PM- 1 AM, Weekends 11 AM- 1 AM
An Italian-inspired Mission District joint, with an atmosphere that is self-described as “dark, sexy, and evocative.” Their menu caters to omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike, and they use local, seasonal, and organic ingredients whenever possible. This is the perfect place to come for date night with your loved one, late-night cocktails with your girlfriends, or weekend brunch.
Cow Hollow | 3344 Steiner St
Russian Hill | 2237 Polk St
Hours: M-F 11 AM- 8:30 PM, Sa-Su 11 AM- 8 PM
A neighborhood deli that partners with local producers, like Oak Hill Farm, a small, sustainable, family-run farm in Sonoma. Their menu includes salads, sandwiches, and grain bowls made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Embarcadero | 2 Embarcadero Center
This small smoothie shop serves acai bowls and smoothies just a short walk from the Ferry Building/ Embarcadero.
Mission District | 762 Valencia St
Hours: M-Tu 5:30 PM- 9:30 PM, W-Su 11:30 AM- 9:30 PM
After spending time in Japan, I became enamored by the Japanese’ approach to cooking, mindfulness, and culture. I was elated to find out that San Francisco has an all-vegan Japanese restaurant, which serves some of my favorite dishes including vegetarian hot pots, soba noodles, vegan sushi, and seaweed salad.
Mission District | 2211 Mission St
Hours: M-Tu 11 AM- 10 PM, W-F 11 AM- 11 PM, Sa 10 AM- 11 PM, Su 10 AM- 10 PM
I’m of the firm belief that the ultimate indulgence is a bowl of chips and guacamole, with a couple tacos and a margarita on the rocks to wash it down. Gracias Madre is an entirely plant-based Mexican restaurant serving all your favorite Mexican dishes- like enchiladas, tostadas, flautas, and quesadillas- with a modern (and cruelty-free) twist. ‘Cause what is life without tacos?
Outer Sunset District | 3906 Judah St
Hours: M-F 8 AM- 7 PM, Weekends 9 AM- 7 PM
Located just below the southwest corner of Golden Gate Park, this vegan cafe/ juice bar serves some of the best acai bowls in town, plus a variety of vegan burritos, soups, salads, and other raw vegan fare. If you’re feeling especially indulgent, try their Waffles Acai- a Belgian waffle topped with acai, banana, raw granola, and maple syrup.
Hours: M-Sa 8 AM- 6 PM, Sundays 9 AM- 4 PM
While you can find this company’s gluten-free treats in cafes and restaurants throughout the Bay area, head to their Ferry Building location for the full offering of breads, pastries, and other baked goods. They also offer several vegan options (the penguinos are a crowd favorite).
Nob Hill | 1030 Hyde St
Hours: M-Th 7 AM- 8 PM, Friday 8 AM- 3 PM, Weekends 8 AM- 3 PM
Presidio Terrace | 189 6th Ave
Hours: M-F 7 AM- 3 PM, Weekends 8 AM- 3 PM
Nourish Cafe is the perfect place to go for a healthy, nourishing lunch, or a quick smoothie or juice in the morning. It has a 100% plant-based menu that includes bowls, sandwiches, soups, smoothies, and juices, plus an assortment of baked goods.
Pause Hours: M- Sa 4:30 PM- 12 AM, closed Sundays
Yield Hours: M- Sa 3:30 PM- 11 PM, closed Sundays
These two wine bars, which are owned and managed by the same company, proudly partner with small, family-owned wineries to offer a variety of sustainable and organic wines. Pause is located right off of Market Street in Hayes Valley, and Yield is located in the up-and-coming Dogpatch neighborhood. Their food menu includes a vegan flatbread and other vegetarian small plates.
Lower Pacific Heights | 736 Divisadero St
The Mill SF is my go-to place for delicious freshly baked bread and high quality coffee (by SF-based Four Barrel Coffee Roasters). Its atmosphere is rustic yet modern, with a menu that is simple and focuses on local, seasonal ingredients. They offer pastries and bread with a variety of seasonally changing toppings (house-made nutella, pumpkin butter, seasonal jam, etc.) all day long, sandwiches for lunch, and pizza every evening from 6-9. They also have a variety of locally made pottery and other home goods for sale.
The Plant is a casual eatery serving contemporary California cuisine, providing clean, 100% organic fuel to the Bay Area. Their ingredients are sourced from local farms, and they offer compostable trays/ cutlery for take-out.
Haight-Ashbury | 1466 Haight St
Hours: Sundays- Thursday 11 AM- 9 PM, Friday- Saturday 11 AM- 10 PM
A casual, counter-serve eatery specializing in plant-based burgers; a vegan “In-N-Out,” if you will.
Cow Hollow | 1977A Union St
Hours: Daily 11:30 AM- 6:30 PM
A vegan deli and specialty market with gluten-free options. Many menu items are plant-based spins on things you grew up eating- like “tofu” egg salad sandwich, PB&J, and grilled cheese.
Lower Haight | 299 Divisadero St
Hours: M-F 7 AM- 7 PM, Weekends 8 AM- 8 PM
Wholesome Bakery was founded in 2009 by long-time vegan Mandy Harper, who wanted to provide “great tasting goodies without it weighing on your conscience.” Their array of sweet treats are made with thoughtfully sourced, locally produced, and organic ingredients. They make the most beautiful cakes and cupcakes, as well as a rotating menu of other sweet treats.
Hayes Valley | 437 Hayes St.
Marina District | 2110 Chestnut St.
As one of the pioneers of eco-friendly fashion, Amour Vert has done an admirable job of setting new standards for the fashion industry. They use innovative and sustainable fabrics including Tencel, Modal, linen, organic cotton, and recycled polyester, and everything is made in the USA using non-toxic dyes and a zero-waste philosophy. They now have two brick & mortar locations in San Fransisco, so be sure to pop in and give them some love.
Pacific Heights | 2136 Fillmore St.
Come here for non-toxic beauty products from well-known brands like RMS, Herbivore Botanicals, and Tata Harper.
Pacific Heights | 2216 Fillmore St.
This 30-something year old fashion company was one of the first to go against the grain and start incorporating sustainable textiles in its designs. Founder Eileen Fisher became highly inspired by the natural simplicity of Japanese fashion whilst working for a Japanese graphic designer, back before she founded her fashion company with a mere $350 in the bank. Thus, Japanese design has influenced the company’s aesthetic throughout the years. Eileen Fisher’s designs are timeless, classic, and for the everyday woman.
While it is now an employee-owned company, Eileen Fisher herself works as the Chief Creative Officer. You can learn about the company’s handful of ethical initiatives on their website, which include the use of sustainable and organic fibers, USA manufacturing, and human rights projects.
Mission District | 461 Valencia St.
This direct-to-consumer brand has earned a cult-like following and is revered for its manufacturing transparency and affordability. They are headquartered in San Francisco and now have a flagship store in the Mission District. Shop here for quality basics, like chunky sweaters, the perfect tee, and denim jeans.
India Basin | 1634 Jerrold Ave.
Plant lovers’ heaven can be found in San Francisco’s India Basin neighborhood. Ritual Coffee Roasters has set up shop on site, so you can enjoy an almond milk latte while you bask in the glorious greenery. While you’re in the ‘hood, you can stop by All Good Pizza for wood-fired pizza made with local ingredients, then head out to Heron’s Head Park to enjoy views of the water.
Mission District | 3266 21st St.
This funky women-owned boutique supports artists and makers and sells a variety of fashion apparel, pottery, jewelry, artwork, and more. They also offer frequent workshops, pop-up shops, tarot readings, and even a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program. Gravel + Gold is much more than just a boutique. It is a community and a gathering spot that supports creativity, sisterhood, and intentional living.
Mission District | 415 Valencia St.
Heliotrope sells all-natural beauty products made in small batches in Northern California using organic ingredients. Their product offering includes face care, body care, essential oils, and other home goods.
Lower Pacific Heights | 1928 Fillmore St.
Fashion-forward athleisure with a strong commitment to environmental and social responsibility.
Fillmore District | 600 Divisadero St.
A whimsical lifestyle boutique selling an eclectic mix of mostly locally-handcrafted goods and stationary. This is the perfect place to come when you’re on the hunt for a birthday present or a housewarming gift.
Mission District | 1193 Valencia St.
Scarlet Sage is a group of seasoned herbalists with a passion for holistic health, spiritual living, and community. Visit their shop for herbal supplements, essential oils, natural beauty products, and spiritual goods.
Mission District | 365 Valencia St.
A lifestyle boutique with a carefully curated assortment of fashion apparel and home goods from ec0- minded indie labels from around the globe.
Things to Do
Crissy Field is an old Army airfield with some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. On a sunny day, you will find people picnic-ing, jogging, and trying to capture that perfect picture of the bridge.
This building houses several cafes, restaurants, and shops, and is also the site of one of San Francisco’s most popular Farmers Markets, which operates every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning. On the back side of the building you can sit on a bench and enjoy a cup of coffee and a fresh-baked pastry, with a beautiful view of the Bay Bridge.
A donation-based yoga studio in the Mission District that seeks to make yoga accessible to everyone. Power Vinyasa is the style of yoga offered at this location, and the studio is spacious and beautiful.
Day Trip to Sausalito
Just across the Golden Gate Bridge is the quaint little town of Sausalito, with a main street that is lined with restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Rent a bike from CityRide Bike Rentals then make your way across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito. You can ferry back after spending a couple hours exploring the town (trust me, you won’t want to make the trip back uphill on a city bike).