San Francisco is a famously green city (green-minded perhaps?) so it’s no surprise it was one of the first with an environmental program for auto shops. Called Clean and Green it mandates compliance with hazardous materials and OSHA regs, pushes industry best practices and technology changes, and gives you an audience with the mother of toxics information, SF DPH’s own Virginia St. Jean.
Last winter, before LG had a space, or a logo, or a phone number, I called Virginia for a lunch date. (We had to go dutch to keep it legit.) Over coconut soup we discussed the nefarious toxins used daily in shops—aerosols, parts washers, antifreeze, etcetera—and some flagrant local polluters ushering them into the air, soil, and water. She counseled on all the local resources for environmental efforts. She shared her near-encyclopedic memory of suppliers and retailers with updated methods and materials with lowered health and environmental hazards.
In short, we hit it off.
Today, on Halloween, Virginia and her staff members (pictured left to right: Ilana Gauss, Virginia, and Sarah Rodriguez) came by for the final “Clean and Green” inspection for Luscious Garage. While humoring our selection of costume gear, they reviewed our MSDS binder (very thin) and the necessary OSHA training for LG staff. I demonstrated our parts washer that uses biodiesel for solvent and our multi-faceted recycling system. Pictured also is our oil caddy for re-refined oil and reusable sprayer (filled with compressed air) for a water/acetone mix that replaces so-called “brake clean”.
They’re not sure we can find a private recycling company to handle all our wastes, but I’m not giving up. (Zero-waste baby!)
After five years of good work, the Clean and Green program is an old-timer. Surrounding cities of the Bay Area have adopted a bona fide Green Business Program for automotive. Ilana tells me SF won’t have one until the middle of next year. While C&G remains the best tool to attack toxics, leadership on water and energy conservation will have to wait. At least on the government level.
I am extraordinarily grateful to Virgina and the SF Department of Public Health for their good work, and for helping us certify as “Clean and Green.” But Luscious Garage isn’t motivated by certificates or recognition. And we are certainly not satisfied with being called “Clean and Green” or simply “Green.” Satisfaction will come when our environmental impact is completely eliminated.