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Livable Planet

In 25 Years, San Francisco Cut Its Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 28 Percent

What the City by the Bay's trash can teach us about sustainability.

The city of more than 800,000 residents has one of the most progressive waste management systems in the country with an 80 percent diversion rate for trash. "Waste is the end side, and it gives us a conversation about how to better use recycled material so we're not destroying fresh forests and young trees in order to get the products that we need," said San Francisco Mayor, Ed Lee.

Despite using resources to improve sanitation efforts, San Francisco has experienced a financial boom of 79 percent between 1990 and 2015. In that same time span of 25 years, the city's population has continued to grow all the while reducing greenhouse gas emission by 28 percent -- two years earlier than their original goal. It has some work to do when it comes to affordability, but by most accounts the city is prospering.

The success of San Francisco's waste management policy, economic progress and climate goals shows that environmental issues and development don't exist separately but work hand-in-hand.

If you want your city to join the clean energy movement, join the Sierra Club in their Ready for 100 campaign, designed to get mayors to commit their locales to 100 percent renewable energy.