Our trip to the Bay Area last week was one we planned at the beginning of the year, and I was grateful for the time away after the busiest summer of my life. We spent a week backpacking by the Pacific Ocean in Point Reyes, then another week split between downtown San Fransisco and Oakland.
I suspect you already know this, but the Bay Area is probably the most zero-waste-friendly place in the United States; it offers widespread municipal composting and the best package-free food and toiletry selection that I've found anywhere. That's not why we went there, of course, but it was such a pleasure to be in a city where zero waste required less planning ahead and careful forethought.
As someone who's used to taking food scraps home from restaurants to ensure they're composted, having compost available everywhere lit me up. So convenient, so guilt-free, so lovely. Thanks for leading the way, Bay. We found that many restaurants don't even offer a trash can for customers, instead dividing the store's entire waste between recycling and compost bins. (That doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement: single-use disposable cups, etc., were still rampant, even if they were being recycled or composted).
As for the bulk foods available in San Fransisco, I think they deserve their own post. But one thing of note was that even chain stores had upped their zero-waste friendly offerings: the Whole Foods near my friend's house in Oakland offers bulk Dr. Bronner's soap, something that I haven't seen in any Whole Foods in the Midwest.
In addition to ogling bulk food at Rainbow Grocery and gleefully pitching apple cores in compost bins, we also, of course, did other things. A few highlights:
-Tartine Bakery (pictured here): Waited in line here because, hey, baked goods. It was a fun pilgrimage and such a pretty space.
-Mission San Delores Park: A friend told us we had to go here, and it ended up being my very favorite part of the trip. All we did was sit on a bench watching people play fetch with their dogs, but the view of the city was beautiful. Sometimes those unassuming moments end up being the best, don't they?
-Gracias Madre: All-vegan Mexican food. Handmade tortillas and tortilla chips, and cashew cream galore. I'll probably come back here every time I'm in San Fransisco, for the pure pleasure of being able to order anything off the menu. So much goodness here.
-Ferry Building Marketplace: Munching samosas from the Saturday farmers' market in the sun before heading back inside to browse the food stalls and shops was so much fun we went two mornings in a row. And frankly, we could have gone a third, too.
-Lake Merritt: One of my closest friends lives in Oakland, so I always try to stay a little longer so I can see her when I'm in California. Her apartment is close to Lake Merritt, and walking the three mile perimeter with a podcast on or my mom on the phone or my friend next to me has become one of my favorite traditions.
There's so much more I want to share - a few of the fun bulk foods we found, thoughts on lower-waste backpacking, how I think through staying zero waste on long flights, and more, so stay tuned for that good stuff coming later this week. Hope you've had a good few weeks, and I'd love to hear your favorite Bay Area spots too, if you'd like to share below!