West Side Sustainable Story: California Travel Edition

Eco Legacy of California

When you’re looking for a place dedicated to environmentally-friendly practices, the state of California clearly tops the list. With eco-friendly jobs, wineries, restaurants, hotels, yoga studios, and more, it is not hard to live a sustainable lifestyle here. California’s High-Speed Rail Authority is committed to sustainable practices, building a transportation system designed to minimize the harm to the natural environment. As of December of 2016, the Rail Authority had invested $14 million in clean agricultural equipment with the goal of offsetting harmful emissions. Additionally, the state is striving to minimize environmental harm through implementation of sustainable government operations, use of renewable energy generation within state facilities, and energy-efficient construction of government buildings. A program even exists encouraging the use of eco-friendly state-owned cars and vehicles.

Los Angeles, one of the state’s most visited cities, is highly committed to its environmental practices as well. In fact, it was the first city in the US to require that all city-owned buildings be designed under specific internationally recognized environmental standards and has the highest rate of solid waste recycling of any US city. Golf courses and farms in LA use only recycled water for irrigation, and the city has required low-flow toilets and showers since 1988. San Francisco is also highly committed to its sustainable practices. The city hosts a huge number of farm-to-table restaurants, and many grocery stores offer fair trade and organic options. San Francisco has set a waste-free city goal for the year 2020, banning plastic bags, designing a food-waste and composing program, and encouraging recycling programs. With hiking trails and parks dispersed throughout the city, residents can find relief from city-life and enjoy the many green spaces. If you’re committed to going green, California is the place to be.

In Los Angeles, the city of lights, camera, action, there is a green juice or smoothie somewhere near by and a beach you can turn to. Shore Hotel combines access to both with plenty of sustainable assets.

San Francisco is the hub of all tech trials and trebulations. It’s where the venture capitalist comes home to roast and the start up companies fly there instead of south. What makes this west side city stand out from the rest is the pioneering of sustainable travel via hotels like the Hilton San Francisco in Union Square and Westin St. Francis, local and sustainably sourced food at restaurants like Fog Harbor and Tap 415, tourist attractions like Alcatrez (yes it is sustainably operated), and of course, access to nature all within a reasonable distance.

Hilton San Francisco Union Square

The Hilton San Francisco Union Square in located in the Theatre District, just walking distance from iconic features such a San Fran’s cable cars. We enjoyed city views from our balcony and guest can too from any one of the hotel’s three towers. For eco-committed travelers, the Hilton is an natural choice as one of the first green hotel in San Francisco and a certified TripAdvisor green leader.

The rooms boast modern decor accentuated by the skyline. After unpacking and unwinding for a bit, I went to enjoy dinner at the Urban Tavern, featuring a menu of locally souced food, which appears to be a city-wide standard. With an impressive mocktail menu, Quick grab and go options are availale in the lobby at Herb N Kitchen, with a variety of healthy options and they also deliver.

Playing explorer for a day, I decided to check out the scene off the property. The Hilton is in the centre of the theatre district. Sightseeing like the San Francisco Shopping Centre, City Hall and the Moscone Convention Centre are close by.

Hilton San Francisco Union Square: Eco-Practices

The Hilton San Francisco Union Square has been committed to sustainable tourism for 20 years. One of the first San Francisco green hotels, the Hilton has consistently demonstrated commitment to recycling, energy management, and composting and water conservation. The hotel has further demonstrated its commitment to going green by partnering with organizers such as the Green Meeting Industry Council and the Building Owner Managers’ Association Recycling and Earth Awards Task Force.

The Hilton San Francisco Union demonstrated its commitment to environmental protection by using non- toxic cleaning products. Water based paint is used throughout the property along with recycled and biodegradable products. Excess equipment, food and supplies are donated, demonstrating the Hilton’s participation in demand response programs for almost 20 years.

View from Cityscape Bar & Lounge atop Hilton Hotel Union Square

The Hilton offers guests menus composed of organic and locally grown farm produce. Organic farming produces less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional agriculture and is the way to go for travellers seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. Left over produce and scraps from the kitchen are composted and repurposed as mulch. Energy and water conservation is a big deal for the Hilton. Water conservation is especially important since San Francisco is located in a drought prone area. Energy consumption is curbed by installing air conditioning units that turn off when guests leave their rooms.

The Shore Hotel

The Shore Hotel is another Green Standards hotel offering eco-conscious accommodations and sustainably sourced decor. Boasting 164 guestrooms and 20 suits, the Shore is within walking distance of downtown Santa Monica. I decided to explore the hotel before venturing to Santa Monica. I kept up my workout schedule in the 24-hour fitness center.

Shore Hotel Pool/Outdoor Area

After working up a sweat for most of the morning, I enjoyed the rest of the day unwinding by the pool taking in the picturesque view of Santa Monica Beach. The hotel’s website lists ‘10 Things to do in Santa Monica’ while staying at the Shore. I checked out a few on my visit.

My first stop was to the Pacific Park to ride their Solar Powered Ferris Wheel. As an eco-friendly traveller I decided to make this my first stop outside the hotel. It was truly a breath taking experience 130 feet overlooking a stunning ocean view. My next stop was to one of the many Farmer’s Markets in Santa Monica. These markets see over 900,000 shoppers each year supporting farmers who practice sustainable agriculture.

The Shore Hotel: Eco-Practices
The Shore Hotel takes going green to a whole new level. They have pulled out all the stops to ensure that they operate sustainably. This environmentally friendly hotel employs numerous strategies to maintain green standards. The hotel has partnered with the Clean the World Foundation; a non-profit organization that recycles discarded soaps and bottled amenities from hotels. The Shore prides itself on using local recycled and recyclable materials where possible. Making the Shore Hotel your choice guarantees guests the satisfaction of knowing they are contributing to sustainable tourism.

Management at the hotel have utilized numerous tools and measures to ensure natural resources are conserved. Water conservation techniques include using drought resistant plants in landscaping, installing low flow showerheads and storm water capture and use. Energy use is curtailed here by using renewable energy and energy efficient equipment and appliances. Swimming pools are heated by solar heaters; simultaneously reducing consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Energy consumption is reduced by using LED lighting and elevators designed to use 75% less energy throughout the property.

The Shore is big on recycling. In fact 50% of construction waste material including metals, concrete, stucco, terrazzo, wood and carpet were recycled or salvaged. Lobby chairs are upholstered with 100% pre consumer recycled polyester and guest rooms are outfitted with carpets made of nylon containing at least 25% recycled content.

Looking for a good detox program? Check out their Metox Health and Wellness Package which includes two nights stay at the hotel, access to yoga or indoor cycling class, a juice cleanse, and a massage or facial.

The Westin St. Francis

The Westin St. Francis is next on the list of hotels known for going green. Operations started here more than a century ago and to date still dominates as San Francisco’s centre of social theatrical and business life. The Westin is San Francisco’s premiere hotel located directly on union square, has recently announced the completion of its expansive new WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio and a new health and wellness program. In a recent visit I was fortunate to partake in this new experience and was most impressed.

The new WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio is downright impressive. Expanded to 6000 square feet, the facility boasts the latest fitness equipment including PreCor Elliptical, Flexstriders, Powermill Climbers and Life Fitness machines. If you’re not a gym person and wish to go for a scenic run instead, the Westin has you covered. Run WESTIN takes fitness offerings beyond the hotel giving guests the opportunity to take in local scenery.


Being a health food nut, I was most impressed with the healthy eating experiences offered at the Westin. The SuperFoodsRx appeals to guests looking for healthier, lighter dining options. Coures offered here are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, protein and Omega 3 fatty acids. The menu features foods such as blueberries, wild salmon, walnuts, pumpkin, tofu and avocado. Food is not the only healthy choice at the hotel. The Westin Fresh by the Juicery offers an assortment of nourishing, healthy juices and smoothies. Take it from me, healthy never tasted so good.

The Westin St. Francis: Eco Practices

Travellers keen on reducing their environmental impact can rest easy at the Westin St. Francis. Committed to sustainability and being environmentally responsible, implemented comprehensive measures to protect and preserve the environment. The sustainable practices employed by the Westin supports the environmentally friendly business community. By embarking on a comprehensive and efficient recycling and composting program, the Westin is able to divert 75% of hotel refuse from the landfill.

The eco-friendly guestrooms at the Westin Boasts energy efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems with occupancy motion sensors. Guests are given the option to make a Green Choice and can enjoy a $5 voucher at participating food and beverage outlets. Five hundred Starpoints are awarded at check-out to guests for each night they decline housekeeping. Water conservation is employed by utilizing low-flow faucets and low-flow showerheads. Energy saving light bulbs, Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL), are used throughout the property in public spaces, meeting and guest rooms.

The sunny side up of the United States continues to prove it is the go to mecca for standards in sustainability, health, and wellness. From LEED certified buildings to acai bowls and hiking, the spectrum of healthy living is vast and wide.

Each hotel provided a complimentary stay in order to facilitate this story. Opinions expressed here are our own.-YolisGreenLiving.com

Yoli Ouiya

Yoli Ouiya is a spokesperson, consultant and speaker on sustainability initiatives. Yoli is an omnipresent part of the Green movement. She has been dubbed the “Queen of Green”, noting her function as the go-to social media presence for everything “green”.