SF Launches Website for Green Products

(August 16, 2010)

After years of researching a wide range of chemical and other consumer products, San Francisco's Environment Department has posted the results on a groundbreaking new online purchasing catalogue, SF Approved.org. The site was created for San Francisco City departments, but it is useful for anyone wanting to purchase healthier, environmentally friendly products.

The SF Approved website lists over 1,000 products & services that meet strict health and environmental standards developed by Environment Department specialists. In 2005, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to enact a Precautionary Purchasing Ordinance, which requires City staff to avoid using products that may be harmful to human health and the environment. SF Approved helps City staff identify the safest products available and comply with the city's strict green purchasing requirements.

"Before SF Approved, I had to spend a lot of time researching green products," said Mike Hanson of the city's Real Estate Department. "SF Approved is my one-stop shop for where to buy green products. Plus, it's the law for all city staff." Hanson won the city's sponsored "Green Purchaser of the Year" award for his leadership role in encouraging fellow custodial supervisors to use green cleaning products.

"Our experience has taught us how critical it is to have an ongoing dialogue with the people actually using the products, and to base specifications on the best science available," summarizes Dr. Chris Geiger, Green Purchasing Program Manager for the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Most SF Approved products have been vetted with end-users for effectiveness and value.

SF Environment conducted cutting edge research to identify the safest, least-toxic janitorial cleaning and paper products, paint/graffiti removers, paint thinners, light bulbs, and other products. Data for over 60,000 chemicals, provided by Berkeley-based GoodGuide, was used in the ongoing product screening process.

Since San Francisco began its green purchasing program, it has introduced more than 1,000 zero- or low-emission vehicles to the city fleet, saved 6,800 trees and more than half-a-million gallons of water each year by purchasing recycled content paper, cut municipal pesticide use by nearly two-thirds, and dramatically increased the purchase of low-mercury, long-life fluorescent lamps.