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The Bay Area’s Top 5 Eco Non-Profits

June 10, 2012
Small Business
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

The citizens of San Francisco value the environment. But let’s face it. We live in a major city. Our hearts might be green, but we have a long way to go to achieve the ideal. Fortunately, a lot folks are awakening to the importance of creating clean, sustainable habitats. Organization is key to leading us to a greener future. We’ve highlighted 5 of our favorite non-profit environmental groups working with the community here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Plant*SF – permeable landscaping

To understand what Plant*SF does, you first need to understand the concept of permeable landscaping. Simply enough, permeable landscaping means exposing earth to allow water and air to reach the soil. This is accomplished by reducing the solid, non-permeable surfaces that mummify most urban areas. It means replacing pavement with porous natural or manmade materials. Among the benefits of permeable landscaping are reduction of storm sewer loads, heat reduction, neighborhood beautification and oxygen replenishment. Plant*SF aims to integrate nature into the cityscape by providing individuals and organizations the resources and knowledge to undertake their own landscaping projects. Check out their website for examples and a how-to guide!

Thoreau Center for Sustainability – a model for sustainable human habitats

Thoreau Center for Sustainability is a model non-profit center operated by Tides, incorporating historic preservation and green design. Located in the historic Presidio, this 12-building eco-friendly complex is a cluster of over 60 non-profit organizations bent on protecting and preserving the environment. The center, which houses a “whole-earth library” and a variety of informational and artistic exhibitions, prides itself on its extensive recycling program. Recipient of several awards including the National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award, the California Preservation Foundation Honor Award, and EARTH and CORY awards, the Thoreau Center is built of green construction materials and strictly uses environmentally safe cleaning supplies. It’s energy efficient design includes extensive accommodations for cyclists, occupancy sensors for lights and roof-mounted photovoltaic systems.

Building REsources – suppliers of recycled building material

Build REsources is San Francisco’s sole supplier of recycled, reusable and remanufactured building and landscaping materials. As a not-for-profit organization, they accept donated materials and aim to provide high quality at a low cost. The property comprises 1.5 acres of inventory and sample projects crafted completely of reused materials. In addition to redistributing construction materials, the organization aims to educate the community in sustainability, occasionally offering classes and workshops.

Garden for the Environment – organic gardening demonstrations

Located on 7th Ave and Lawton Street, the Garden for the Environment is an educational demonstration urban garden. Sprawled over an acre of land, the garden offers education in organic gardening, sustainable food systems and urban compost systems. They currently offer various programs and workshops for educators and youth alike. Programs include everything from low-water landscaping to urban food production. Current workshops include urban beekeeping and chicken-raising.

Grind for the Green – environmental education for low-income communities

Based in Oakland, Grind for the Green strives to “move young people of color from the margins to the epicenter of the environmental movement.” They also aim to empower disadvantaged communities by providing access to green resources. Through social marketing and special events, G4G educates youth about making smart consumer choices and becoming a part of an environmentally awakened future. They recently partnered with Toyota/Volta to create “G4G Mobile,” a portable solar-power trailer that can provide energy at public and private events (workshops, lectures, concerts, etc). The trailer can be adorned with promotional messages and logos to encourage event sponsors to provide a source of green energy.