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WHAT WE'RE ALL ABOUT

We believe appreciation of nature within our homes is essential for the health and happiness of our neighborhoods. Love of nature drives our commitment to reducing our negative impact and promoting more sustainable practices for the protection of natural resources. The modern urban ecosystem requires both environmental stewardship and achievement of social justice in order to protect and promote well-nourished and vital communities. While fledgling and tender still, this vision for a balanced urban ecology is the heart of The Urban Green.

We believe in: We do:
appreciation of nature We dig dirt. Really. And we think you should, too. So many of us city dwellers never learned to grow anything, but the simple process of germinating a seed and nurturing a plant to adulthood incorporates all the magic and wonder of a trip to Yosemite, and it can happen at your kitchen table. At The Urban Green, we specialize in easy going plants, plants that have evolved to survive in many light and moisture conditions – houseplants. And while we appreciate exotic foliage, we focus on the simple and hardy varieties of plants to ensure that you’re successful with whatever you take home. From custom potting materials and techniques to friendly phone advice, we’ve made it easy to surround yourself with living natural objects.

Natural objects rock. Polished stones, sculptural branches, dried flowers, seed pods, sea-farmed shells, wild grasses, and other preserved botanicals hold the beauty and inspiration of natural forms. We collect natural objects from sustainable harvesters from around the world for you to admire in your home.

The form of beauty. We offer a broad variety of premium-quality replicas of flowers and plants for times and places when a living item can’t survive. These aren’t the plastic flowers of decades past – these replicas are lovingly and precisely crafted by botanists, so well that you may not be able to tell if they’re real or not.

our neighborhoods People-centered business. Many of us know how critical small, local businesses are for community life and quality, and part of the reason for that is that we care more about our customers that our transaction totals. We use names instead of numbers for receipts, so if customers or their gift recipients want to return or exchange items, we only need their name. If we don’t have what you’re looking for, we’ll do our best to suggest another local store that does. We gift wrap for free, and we’re happy to respect customers’ design views and budget limitations.

As independent as you are. We’re a locally-owned, independent business. We’re a county-certified Green Business, and we’re woman-owned. We’re activists and capitalists, usually in that order, and the Bay Area is our home by choice. We appreciate and defend those with “San Francisco values,” but we encourage everyone to come join us in the more liberal East Bay. Go, 510, go.

reduced environmental impact Green inside and out. When we opened The Urban Green, we worked with green building professionals and suppliers to thoughtfully create the store environment. We used FSC-certified lumber, low-VOC paints, recycled and recyclable plastics, natural cork flooring and energy-efficient lighting wherever possible. We learned a lot from outside team members, and we’re thrilled to recommend their services and the products we used – see our green build-out blog entry for details!

Recycling is fun. We do our best to make sure we reduce the amount of waste headed to landfills by recycling anything we can. We recycle green waste from our plants, mixed paper from the many catalogs and junk mail we get, cardboard from all the boxes shipped to us, and plastic from just about everywhere else. We send batteries and used CFL bulbs to special recycling locations, and we store and then donate packaging peanuts and bubble wrap.

Tree-free to live free. We appreciate tree-free papers and we’re passionate about using paper made from recycled pulp. We use 100% recycled paper in our gift wrap, business cards, correspondence, posters and informational handouts. We wrap gifts in a compostable and biodegradable fiber-ribbon made of abaca (an easily renewable tree related to the banana) and package items in excelsior, wood shavings salvaged from lumber production facilities. We also offer some great tree-free paper products at The Urban Green, including cards and notesets made with coffee grounds, hemp, garlic skins, and wildflower-seed-studded recycled paper.

Energy efficiency. We think compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are a great way to reduce our energy consumption, and we demonstrate the inviting quality of light they provide in the lamps we sell. Let us show you how warm and soothing the light from CFLs can be, and save yourself lots of money and energy waste by replacing all the incandescent bulbs in your home.
more sustainable practices Sustainability is the answer. A simple definition of sustainability includes practices that balance current needs with the ability of future generations to care for their needs. Practically, this means we support products and services that ensure the long-term viability of our community and even our planet. This includes offering products made with sustainable materials, such as wood, fiber and other materials that are harvested in a way that protects their ecosystem and ensures its healthy renewal. Some of the products we sell that are made from sustainable materials include outdoor furniture from FSC-certified lumber, lamps made from easily-renewable fibers like banana leaves, capiz shells and coco fiber, and wooden items created from fallen dead wood.

Reuse revitalized. The possibility of reusing material is central to urban sustainability. We are surrounded by items that are considered trash by some and vital to others. Bold and overt practices of reuse serve as inspirations and reminders to consider our own practices of consumption and reduce items headed to landfills. The Urban Green is delighted to offer a wide variety of products made from reused “trash,” including items made from used tires, chopsticks, juice bags, books, machine gears and more.

Hand made meaning. We’re delighted to offer a variety of affordable decorative objects for the home that are made by hand. These items have stories and people behind them – not the anonymous industrial process that leaves workers and their contributions invisible and neglected. Come check out hand-carved stones, hand-woven baskets and hand-crafted wood arts to feel for yourself the difference of acquiring an item from people, not factories.

environmental stewardship Environment of many. We’re thrilled to be a part of a community of activists who dedicate themselves to every aspect of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic. We appreciate multiple approaches to making the world a better place, and we’re proud of the varied and dynamic nonprofits, public agencies and businesses with whom we partner. Wherever possible, we try to work in partnership rather than duplicating the work or intentions of other community groups. Check out our community resources for more details.

Environment of joy. Yeah, we’re worried about global warming and pollution and all the many things that aren’t working out so well for our planet and its non-human residents. But we believe the best starting point for all environmental activism is love of natural beauty, not fear of its loss. Join us as we have fun and let us show you some of the inspiration we’ve gathered in our store.  

social justice Fair labor for a fairer world. The Urban Green offers many products created using organized and informal fair trade practices. For products made in developing countries, we partner with various Fair Trade organizations to present goods created with independently-certified programs and processes that protect the artisans and ensure they receive fair wages for their work. For products made in the U.S., we promote vendors who provide good working conditions and wages.

Livable wages is just the beginning. We value our employees as much as every other customer and partner we learn from, and we do our best to show it. We offer livable wages and full benefits for fulltime workers, and we treat them like the smart, capable leaders that each of them are. We believe in minimal supervision, healthy work conditions, personal and professional development plans and learning from our mistakes to continually improve as an employer. If we sound like the type of team you’d like to join, check us out.

balanced urban ecology We’re nothing without you. Like an old-fashioned village green, The Urban Green is a gathering place to appreciate community and plot our efforts to make the world a better place. Our potting bar invites folks to sit down and chat, perhaps with a cup of complimentary herbal tea. We treasure the communities we are a part of, and we welcome all our neighbors to help us realize the healthy and enriching urban ecology we envision. Come see us and tell us what you’ve been thinking about.