Hello Etsy: An Introduction to The Third Industrial Revolution and the Urgency of Jeremy Rifkin

Dear Readers,

Remember, how I promised to cover every session at Hello Etsy? Well, this month I'm going to share the opening Keynote presentation by Jeremy Rifkin, a man of many hats. He is an adviser to the European Union and to heads around the world, a senior lecturer at the Wharton School's Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania, President of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C., and author of The New York Times best selling book, The Third Industrial Revolution, How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World.

Friday night, March 22nd, the Main Hall at Pratt Institute was a buzz. Everyone in attendance was focused on the Keynote presentations opening this year's Hello Etsy.  Beginning with a warm welcome from the organizing Etsy Values and Impact Team, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, offered an inspiring presentation that included comments on his decision to take five weeks of paternity leave after bringing home his son.  I could spend more time on Chad's presentation including his mention of the 1936 film "Modern Times" by Charlie Chaplin (video clip is below) and the following quote by Mahatma Gandhi, "Production by the masses, not mass production," but I will not. Instead, I will focus on Jeremy Rifkin, who came on after, and who Chad did a great job of setting the stage for what was to come that weekend.

Mr. Rifkin from the beginning was a breath of honest air. Many, those who don't believe in climate change, that our government needs a shake up, or who believe that our economy is on the mend, would disagree with what he would go on to say, but I sat glued to my seat and experienced a range of feelings- troubled, scared, agreement, and hope. Over all, I felt a hope that the two hundred people sitting in that room would feel the urgency of Mr. Rifkin's message and turn that into inspiration to do more.

The first thing Mr. Rifkin said to the Hall was, "Everything in our current civilization is reliant on petrochemical (fossil fuels)." Not surprising to me given the time I've spent working with a large corporation on business interested heavily linked to petrochemicals, but for many others this may be a surprise.  According to data he shared, crude oil production peaked in 1979 and 2006. We had the most oil per capita in those two years.  However, with the Great Recession of 2008, things are different. According to Mr. Rifkin, two moments proving that the world we rely on fossil fuel is ending:

  1. July 2008, when the prices of everything increased
  2. The Great Sichuan Earthquake which resulted in the fall of the Stock Market

Not only are these statistics important to his presentation, but I think they give another perspective to those of you following current issues being battled by environmental groups in the US, Canada and even Europe - tar sands and fracking.

As he went on, he touched on climate change and what he considers the most terrifying piece of the topic-the water cycle. According to research, every one degree rise in temperature creates more moisture in the air. This leads to more destructive hurricanes and natural disasters (last year's Hurricane Sandy l, or this week's Oklahoma tornado, anyone?) that impact us all on a global scale.

After sharing these terrifying statistics and with full-on urgency in his voice, Mr. Rifkin turned to us and said, "what we need is a new economic plan for this world. It needs to move quickly to off-set carbon in 30 years, if we want hope."

He then went into discussing the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) - a lateral power shift -favoring small business and the World.  In discussing how we need a lateral power shift to really create change, he used examples underway in the European Union currently. The EU is undergoing what they call the "disruptive revolution" focusing on the use of distributive energies such as wind, heat, sun, and waves. Where instead of relying on fossil fuels, we look to these new energies as a way of producing what we need, but also being able to store and share these energies with others on a more global scale.

He did mention how Etsy is allowing us small business owners to be part of this lateral power shift. Rather than selling through middlemen and relying on traditional business methods and practices, the use of the internet and sites like Etsy, have allowed us to directly target our market and share our products (that are often times not as energy dependent as goods created in a large scale factory) with those who want and value them.  Even greater, is that we're not just limited to goods, we're using this power to educate, and we're winning what might seem like a small battle, but is actually a much larger concern.

In line with this topic of a lateral power shift, Mr. Rifkin stated the following, "In the next 20 years, failure will have everything to do with energy costs, not labor costs." 

We need to focus on renewable energies in order to move the TIR forward. While there are parties actively creating and looking to the disruptive energies listed above, there aren't enough.  Not to mention the EU can not be the only government entity looking to move ahead with these ideas.

I'm not sure that any of us Etsy sellers will be creating renewable energies, but we are part of the class of entrepreneurs in this new revolution, and if we are going to help create a shift in consciousness within the next 25 years, as Mr. Rifkin asked us to, then we need to start thinking about this and our role in how to bring more change and responsibility into our businesses.  Then use that as a means to change the political spectrum. We can use our muscle to demand sustainable practices and better energy systems the same way that large corporations and their lobbyists demand and promote unfair and bad business practices.

These same large corporations now, they are all eagerly publishing catalogs on the "socially good" programs they are creating and money they donate philanthropically, but we need to see more change. Unlike those large companies, we small businesses can make these goals part of our mission statements and part of our every day habits and really mean them.  I'm not criticizing these large corporations too much. I know I've helped keep them going, but as a small business owner and an environmentalist who cares about my impact on the World, I need to be aware and make necessary steps to keep my business aligned with my beliefs.

I could spend pages on his presentation, but I am limited here and I don't want to overwhelm you with too much more.  Before Hello Etsy, we received an email that included an article by Mr. Rifkin in the World Financial Review on March 20, 2012, titled, "The Third Industrial Revolution: How the Internet, Green Electricity, and 3-D Printing are Ushering in a Sustainable Era of Distributed Capitalism." 

It is heavy on economic terms and he discusses 3-D printers, which I didn't even touch upon, but I think it's a great way to learn more about Mr. Rifkin and what he believes needs to happen if we are to shift consciously and save the planet. 

What do YOU think, readers? Do you think we can help shift the global conscious? Is there something you can do to help move the TIR? Or better yet, just change one thing in your business to help? Let me know below in the comments. I'm always interested in the what I can learn from all of you.  

As for Mr. Rifkin, I don't know if he'll come across this posting, but if he does, Thank you Mr. Rifkin for your overwhelming and educational presentation. I am still thinking about it! 

More on Hello Etsy to come!

"It Starts With You..." - Initial Thoughts On The 2013 Hello Etsy Conference

Hi Readers! It's been quite a while since you've heard from me. I'll get into the why I've been absent at a later time (aka future posts), but for now, I want to come back to the Etsy New York Team Blog with thoughts on the most recent Hello Etsy conference held at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York the weekend of March 22-24, 2013.

Image by Etsy

Two years ago, I covered the first Hello Etsy New York Event. I shared what I thought were the key tips from one session. This time around, I need to put out a full series of posts because the weekend in it's entirety was mind blowing!

This year's Hello Etsy conference was completely different from the first one I attended. Two year's ago it was a smaller spin off of the huge event held in Berlin, Germany. I can't write about the Berlin event, but I can tell you that where as there were maybe 40 of us in the Etsy Labs that September day, there were now hundreds of us walking across the campus of Pratt Institute.  The speakers at the event two years ago were interesting, large personalities from local communities across America, and they were a great way to introduce the concept of sustainability to "Etsypreneurs."   The line up of speakers alone at the 2013 Conference shows just how different of a ball game Hello Etsy has become and will continue to evolve as Etsy takes it's shift into a socially aware and responsible company serious.

Last year, I reflected on Etsy's announcement of becoming a certified B-Corp on this blog and talked about what it means for Etsypreneurs.  I talked about how great it was to see Etsy moving in this direction. To be quite honest, it brought me to tears. My business lives because of the hope of Etsy. My world depends on a clean and healthy environment. If Etsy is going to pave that path that I'm walking for me, then I'm going to walk along it and help them as much as I can.  Which is why two years later, even though I wasn't overwhelming impressed with the first Hello Etsy Conference in 2011, I spent $85 on a ticket as soon as the event was announced.

I talked to quite a few different people at the conference and was amazed by the assortment of people in attendance. There were Pratt design students, Etsy staff, team members from Etsy New York, and then a whole host of different level Etsy sellers. I was a bit shocked at first by the amount of new sellers that were hoping to learn something new for the event. Then I realized that while they may not get what they were hoping for, they'd get something a bit different, and hopefully eye opening to starting their business.

For those of you who don't know, I spent almost five years working in a corporate communications department that focused on environmental/sustainable/corporate social responsibility (CSR) and I learned a lot. It is why I laid down the foundation of environmental friendliness, concern, social giving and education at the beginning of my business dreaming and planning.  It is why I love that Etsy is taking the steps to share this path with all of their community, not just the sellers, but the buyers, the government (have you seen how Etsy has teamed up with the entire town and Mayor of Rockland, Illinois on craft entrepreneurship?), leaders in the environmental, technical, and social change worlds.

There is a firm, but fine line between setting up a business from the beginning with deeply rooted mission for change and responsibility, not just socially and environmentally, but on good business practices such as ethics and morals, and a business that does it after the fact. Yes, it is better to be "in" than to be out, but you have a much harder time understanding your focus if you switch it years down the line. Not to mention, you have to then prove and become credible to your followers, fans, and customers once the change takes place.

Now, I'm not saying this is improbable, because it isn't, but it takes a lot of commitment and hard work. No matter how many good intentions we have, in order to change our communities and even our own ideas and practices, we have to walk the walk-we have to take actions that lead the way and show others that it is possible and that there is hope. 

That is the key to what I took from this year's Hello Etsy conference: "It starts with you and it starts small, but from those small steps anything is possible and will happen."

Everyone who got on the stage to present gushed about Etsy. They talked about all the great things about Etsy and how they see it as one of the greatest tools of change that's come about in the last few years.

You are part of that.

They mentioned how we're now able to laterally connect and share our work and make livings that have nothing to do with the current business structure, but have everything to do with our humanness and the connections we build and create together.  They are absolutely correct. When I think about some of the sales I've made to people as far as Australia, I am floored that my little box, that I use to type this post now, connected me to that person and to the person she gave my item to.  It is life changing!

In my next few posts, I'm going to delve into presentations full on. I think it's worth sharing for those of you who didn't/couldn't attend the conference. Each presentation had a different topic, had different leaders weighing in on that topic, and were so varied that I want to share.

Until my next post, please leave your thoughts in the comments. If you attended the conference, what did you think? What do you think about Etsy's shift into the sustainable movement? Do you have any concerns for your shop or business? Please ask and share below. I'm excited to hear your thoughts. Not to mention, we need to continue this conversation!

What are B Corps? Why Do We Need Stuff?

In my last post, readers, I reflected on Earth Day and sustainable small businesses and our own businesses. It was a lot to read, kind of heavy, I know. Today is going to be a bit along those lines, but I'm going to share two big things, that combined, relate to sustainable small businesses.

Please note that when I use the word sustainable, I use it a la Merriam-Webster definition
a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged <sustainable techniques> <sustainable agriculture>  
b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods <sustainable society>. 

The first thing, which is the second question in the title, "Why Do We Need Stuff?" comes from Megan Auman, of Designing an MBA. In the last month she launched a site called Understanding Objects and is all about changing the perception that the world doesn't need more stuff, it needs YOUR stuff. 

Hardly a mind-blowing concept here, but as an artist, I've struggled too with the idea that there are already so many stationery companies out there, why does the world need my stationery? Or better yet, I've tried to build a business based on a Toyota business model where I buy only what I need when I need it to avoid having too much stuff around. To have another artist out there, trying to repair our concept of "stuff", especially in relation to our own art, it's encouraging. It reminds me that there is a place for my art and my stuff, it's just a matter of placing the correct value on the stuff we buy and sell to others.  

The second thing, is that yesterday, Etsy announced their certification as a B Corporation. This point answers the first question, "What Is A B Corporation?"  I encourage you all to read the article about Etsy joining the B Corporation Movement and what it means as an artist and seller on Etsy. It's some incredible stuff, let me tell you! 

But I want to talk about what it means for us, Etsy sellers, a bit and also what it means for our readers on this blog that are buyers and lovers of the New York Etsy Team.  

As, I've discussed many times, what I do personally to run a sustainable business- I run a non-certified sustainable corporation. That's right, I've taken my personal feelings and actions and have allowed them to determine how to run and operate my business. I think it's a logical step for any small business just starting up and one-artist show. However, when a largish company like Etsy takes the steps to become a certified B Corporation, it means they are opening themselves to being questioned regularly about their sustainable business practices and are open to follow a set of guidelines and metric systems that determine whether they are practicing sustainable business standards not just on local, environmental, and employee issues, but globally, as well.  Companies already established as B Corporations are Patagonia and Seventh Generation.

So what about you, artist and small business owner? What does Etsy becoming a certified B Corp mean for you? 

Well nothing yet. You don't have to rush out and do anything, but you should be aware that Etsy is interested in practicing good business for itself, and you. This also means that Etsy's hopes to influence others businesses to start practicing sustainability. It was in large part what Hello Etsy in Berlin (which I covered last year) was all about-how can large and small businesses make an impact for the good of the environment, irreplaceable resources, and humanity?

These are tough questions. After all, who doesn't want to make money? People go into business for a variety of reasons, but most often to make money.  Etsy's decision means that now they want to help small businesses keep making money AND make business decisions that don't hurt humans, or the environment.

I don't believe that many of us small businesses are capable of paying to go through the rigorous process of becoming a B-Corporation yet, but I think it's a great thing to aspire to. I also think it's something that can be started small just by using the tools in the NYC area:
  • composting your produce and coffee bean scraps (Etsy does it!)
  • riding your bike, or taking public transportation instead of driving
  • recycling even the smallest piece of paper
  • carrying our own bags when shopping to avoid taking new bags, or even just collecting all of your plastic bags and then recycling them in the bins specific for plastic bags
  • turning your paper bags into envelopes (I did a tutorial you can see here)
  • recycling your #5 plastic containers (mostly the stuff that holds your yogurt) at Whole Foods Stores
  • Reuse magazine pages to stuff your packages when mailing
  • Reuse boxes, when shipping mail (yes branding matters, but you can do a lot if you state your case beforehand)
The list goes on, and all it requires you to do is to look around you for the resources, until you are large enough and can become a B Corporation of your own.

And for buyers, what does this mean for you? 

Well, it means that you know and have a better idea of the type of business you are purchasing from. I don't want to imply that all businesses are bad businesses, because they are not. However, now those individuals that are concerned with the state of environmental affairs and want to start buying stuff that has value and meaning (Go Megan!), know that you're shopping on a site that is practicing sustainable business and is encouraging their members to practice the same, and they will feel better about their purchases and will put a higher value on them knowing that they are making an impact on the greater world.

Lastly, for artists, buyers and Etsy Small Businesses in NYC, I encourage you to check out Goodnik. Goodnik is an organization that helps social entrepreneurs whether they are in the for-profit or not-for-profit or aspiring B Corporation sectors. They are a great resource just for learning more about this topic.

Let us do more good business!

S2 Stationery and Design

Anticipating "Hello Etsy"

Readers, I am bummed that this post comes days before “Hello Etsy”- the global conference on Sustainability and Small Business coordinated by Etsy Berlin.  I have been following the development of this conference since the initial announcement last year and am extremely excited!  

In the beginning, details were shared as they came out and the only way to learn about the event was to sign up for their updates by email (which I did, even though I knew I could not fly to Berlin for the conference).   You can imagine my happiness upon learning that Etsy was going to host it on a global scale with live streaming online and events in their offices, such as here in Brooklyn. You can get all the details from my fellow blogger, and {NewNew}er, Simone’s posting last Friday.

Now, why the excitement? Well because some of the topics are exactly what I think the “crafting” and “handmade business” community need pay attention to. Often conferences and seminars are structured for individuals just getting their business off the ground or interested in maneuvering through social media and online sales.  I am by no means complaining about that; that information is just as vital. But equally as important to a new business is creating a sustainable platform that will help develop and grow it over time, not just with the need of the owner, but of the clients, community, and global market.

Sustainable business is not just something for large corporations, nor should it ever be "trendy" or "to do"; it is for every business-large, small, old and new. It requires focus and strategy. 

As a matter of fact, it is a common (and not quite truthful) misconception that “crafting” and “handmade business” people are a bunch of older stay-at-home moms or individuals who want extra cash or the flexibility to stay at home with their children. While many do want that flexibility, the reality is that there are a lot of people (of all ages and backgrounds) who are artists and talented individuals who want to make a difference and contentment in their daily lives. Many are tired of the status quo, the way big business operates and are looking to not just be unique, but to really change the way we think of our environment and our consumer behavior.

I mean, honestly, if you have to work for a living, you might as well work on something you love and are passionate about, right? I think so. This sentiment is part of a sustainable business core. It is a piece of the fire that lights you up and it blazes a path, sometimes that you had no idea was opened for wandering.

I know that personally, my business would not be anything without my environmental concern. For example, I don’t wrap my products in plastic. A lot of vendors wrap their items, especially specialty, dainty and/or extremely detailed pieces that they don’t want ruined.  Knowing that I don’t even know how to recycle those plastic wraps, I can not assume that my customer will know how to recycle them (if they are even recyclable). Which is why I’ve chosen to completely nix them from my wrapping. I use paper items, recycled paper, especially Kraft brown bags and ribbon that I usually cut off from fancy shopping bags- all things that can be reused. 

I am aware that I could probably find recycled plastic wrappings or compostable even, but at this point I don't have the additional funds to afford that expense, so I'm doing what I can do that is the least hurtful to the environment. I don't expect everyone to think this way, although I do believe that a lot of artists out there are thinking in this same way (I have quite a few that I'll be interviewing in the coming months). If they weren't, Etsy would not be hosting a sustainability conference! 

However we do still have a long ways to go. As small business owners, we don't always have the means to be considerate or to go about creating a strong sustainable core. It can be costly and so we often look for ways to cut costs, save money, and still deliver a high quality product. Sometimes those things can be and are at odds of each other.  

If I hadn’t had “sustainable business” in my mind from the beginning, I might not know how to address the desire to have a business that is sustainable from the core. Which is why I’m glad to see Etsy delve into this topic.

A Wood III by Machiko Agano currently on display at the Japan Society, NYC. "...it still expresses the artist's former preoccupation with the effects of reflected light, but also makes a direct comment on environmental pressures..."

Last night, I attended a viewing of the exhibit, "Fiber Futures: Japan's Textile Pioneers" (it runs through Sunday, December 18th) at the Japan Society. As I walked through the exhibit, I got caught in this small room with multiple hanging items as you see in the photo above. At that moment, this posting clicked in my mind more than before. The artist, who was on hand and explained her hand process to me, wants the visitor and viewer to reflect on perception of space and environment. When we see ourselves, we also see the green of nature-we have always been intertwined, but it is more of a reality now than most people think.

The future is greener and brighter and with more resources available to crafters, handmakers, artists, and Etsians, it will only become more so. My next posting will highlight tips and comments from the seminar, but especially the sessions dealing with more “sustainable” and “eco” topics such as: “Greening Your Office for Beginners” with Kate Houstoun and Jared Lucas and “Panel: The Challenges of Sustainable Design in a Local Ecosystem” with Laetitia Wolff, Emily Abruzzo, Erika Doering and Victor Lytinenko.

If you are not able to attend, I highly recommend and encourage you to watch as much as you can via live streaming.




The NewNew and Hello Etsy

For the past year Etsy Berlin has been working on a global conference on Sustainability and Small Business. The summit is loosely organized around the process of "coming up with an idea, turning it into a product, taking it to market, and building a business that is mindful and sustainable." While Berlin is the hub of this event, there are conferences around the globe including a location near you such as:
Among the offerings in Brooklyn are a presentation by Matthew Crawford author of Shop Class as Soulcraft discussing the case for working with your hands, a workshop on small business finance, another workshop on workplace sustainability, a panel discussion on "The Challenges of Sustainable Design in a Local Ecosystem," and a presentation by Sara Horowitz of the Freelancer's Union on how in the age of interconnectedness, mutualism will help us maintain and create our social services.

The {NewNew} will be at the conference to represent our Etsy street team and to greet attendants with a small special project.

If you can't physically attend one of these events, you can join us virtually by watching the presentations via Livestream in the Etsy Online Labs on September 17 and 18.

See you at the labs!


Is it Possible to Create Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Business Through Art?

Personally, I think there are a lot of answers to this question depending on who is asked, which is why my goal in this series is to get answers by asking artists directly.

If we look at big business, the answer to many may be a resounding no, but what about small businesses? Every business starts as a small business. Does this mean that the fate of a small vendor on Etsy will be the same as a large corporation?

As a seller on Etsy and an artist, I believe that my business and art are both eco-friendly and sustainable, yet, I’m realistic in knowing that at the very beginning it is hard to always do the right thing and be the most eco-friendly business owner. For example, I have yet to plant trees as a way to give back to the earth for the trees used to create the paper I use to make invitations. The one thing I’ve learned, however, is when a business owner makes the decision to stick to their beliefs, businesses are shaped and developed accordingly.

Before interviewing artists, I decided to research the term “sustainability” since it is the key word in the "green" movement, but what does it mean?

I came across these three definitions that I think help shed some light:

  • Sustainability embodies "stewardship" and "design with nature," well established goals of the design professions and "carrying capacity," a highly developed modeling technique used by scientists and planners. The most popular definition of sustainability can be traced to a 1987 UN conference. It defined sustainable developments as those that "meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs"(WECD, 1987). Robert Gillman, editor of the In Context magazine,extends this goal oriented definition by stating "sustainability refers to a very old and simple concept (The Golden Rule)...do onto future generations as you would have them do onto you.” (http://www.arch.wsu.edu/09%20publications/sustain/defnsust.htm)
  • Sustainability is the capacity to endure. Sustainability interfaces with economics through the social and ecological consequences of economic activity. Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails, among other factors, international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms from reorganising living conditions (e.g., ecovillages, eco-municipalities and sustainable cities), to reappraising work practices (e.g. using permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture), or developing new technologies that reduce the consumption of resources.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability)
  • Finally, according to the United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency): “Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.(http://www.epa.gov/sustainability/basicinfo.htm#sustainability)

Whew, that’s a lot! I get the over all meaning thanks to these three definitions, but what does it mean for artists and the growing industry of hand-crafted goods that you find on Etsy and at fairs?Also how can you know to trust what someone says when the word is used for every industry and good on the shelves?

That's where this column comes in! As a new {NewNew} blogger, I intend to be your eco-friendly and sustainability writer, covering topics such as how artists, business owners and Etsians create with the ever-growing issues of consumerism, the economy, climate change, and unsustainable business practices and their effect on natural resources.

In coming issues, I’ll post interviews and stories from artists directly-introducing their different styles and approaches to their art and these issues. Also, I’m extremely interested in hearing ideas from you readers; so please share any and all thoughts on the shift of business as eco and sustainable issues make demands, especially as the handmade industry continues to pick up steam and chug away.

Until September!


S2 Stationery and Design


In San Francisco, Winter Blues Become Winter Greens

The dreaded New York winter, bitter, cold, and dark, can sometimes make us want to sing the blues. One winter relief for all New Yorkers, is to plan a getaway to San Francisco. While San Francisco is famous for its windy summers, it offers mild and virtually wind-chill free winters. As an added bonus, the city remains green throughout the winter, and in more ways than one. It offers not only better winter weather, but great handmade and local shopping and the opportunity to live a more sustainable, greener life. All good things must come to an end, but before I leave San Francisco, I will share a few of its best green winter treasures.

1. Composting is the law

In addition to its citywide composting program, businesses in San Francisco do their part to reduce waste. Supermarkets and delis only give out paper or plastic bags upon request, coffee shops serve coffee to-go in compostable cups and forgo the plastic lids and ice cream shops use real spoons to give out samples and serve their ice cream in compostable cups coupled with compostable spoons.

2. Plants blossom in the winter

Despite the winter season, plants, trees, and flowers continue to blossom in San Francisco. And if that's not enough, palm trees are scattered throughout major boulevards and public spaces.

3. World-class thrift store shopping

Walking down Valencia Street, a commercial corridor in San Francisco's Mission district, one will come across at least one great thrift store every four blocks. These thrift stores are bustling shopping destinations. They are emblems of the strong "recycle and reuse" culture among San Franciscans.

4. Great-tasting local produce

If you have ever wanted to change your diet and eat vegan, San Francisco is the city for this change. Most restaurants and groceries offer a wide variety of great-tasting, locally farmed produce year-round.

5. Bicycling is safe and convenient

San Francisco offers some of the best urban riding around. Drivers and bicyclists respect each others rights-of-way, helping to make bicycling a viable and safe mode of transportation for all.

6. Local designer shops and co-ops are a main fixture on main streets

Local shops in San Francisco are plentiful and thriving. They have helped to revive many great neighborhood streets throughout the city. One of my favorites that I encountered was Studio 3579, which features the work of local designers Priya Sarawati, Joy Opfer, and Michael Stone.

7. Luscious parks and true public spaces

San Francisco's public spaces are top notch. They are open, vast, public and integrate seamlessly into the urban landscape. Among my favorites is Mission-Dolores Park, a great place to meditate, aimlessly wander, and unwind.

Ready to plan your green winter getaway? Start by visiting craigslist.org for info on sublets, bike rentals and other local deals.

Photo credits (top to bottom): Chloe at greenzer.com, JasonMorrison.net, JB Warehouse and Curio Emporium, Jeremy Waiver, Dustin Jensen, studio3579.com, Carly Gordon

- Karla Quintero
Fernando Jewelry