Healthy Nail Salon gets Certified!


The First Healthy Nail Salon in San Francisco
achieves Green Business Certification

The Upper Hand Nail Spa in Noe Valley recently made history by becoming the first California Green Business Network (CAGBN) certified Nail Salon in California. They are a trailblazing nail salon offering a healthier nail experience, and we are proud to celebrate their commitment to environmental responsibility and safer practices.

Certifying nail salons poses unique challenges due to chemical exposure risks. However, the San Francisco Environment Department administers The Healthy Nail Salons Program, which supports San Francisco’s nail salon workers and customers to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals and improve indoor air quality. With this guidance, The Upper Hand Nail Spa was able to attain full Tier 2 Green Business Certification with the California Green Business Network. The Upper Hand Nail Spa and SF Environment have paved the way for other nail salons to attain certification through most of the 50 Green Business Programs that are part of the California Green Business Network.

Owner Ann Nguyen is committed to going green. She shared with CAGBN, “I want to use products that don’t have toxic chemicals that are harmful to my workers, customers, and myself. I want to leave a healthy environment for my children and for future generations.” In an interview with KQED, the salon was praised for having all the comforts of traditional nail salons without the ever-present chemical smell. 

Are you a business that’s interested in the Green Business Program? 

Green Business Certification can also help your business save money by reducing water, energy, and waste expenses. “The San Francisco Green Business and Healthy Nail Salons programs support the resiliency of small businesses while helping the City reach its sustainability and equity goals,” said Katy Tang, Director of the Office of Small Business. Learn more about certifying your business.

Want to support other Green Businesses? Search for one in your area.


Employee Retention via Wellness

Employee Wellness

Employee health and well-being should be a top priority for running a successful business, especially if you are concerned about retaining your valued employees. According to a survey conducted by Flexjobs, 49% of employees leave due to a lack of healthy work-life boundaries, and many businesses are starting to list employee wellness as a benefit when recruiting. Meeting company targets while maintaining good employee wellness can be a hard balancing act however, especially when running a business in a fast-paced industry. CAGBN has some suggestions for improving employee well-being in the workplace that are simple to implement, but will keep your employees happy, productive, and committed to their job.

  • Encourage work-life balance. Now more than ever, the workforce is learning to prioritize their mental health and cultivate their lives outside of work. Support this! When your team is encouraged to fill their own metaphorical cups outside of the workplace, they contribute to a more productive, healthy, and happy environment. As this interesting piece by the BBC suggests, work-life balance is a moving target and not a simple formula, and therefore may look different for each individual. Get feedback from your team on what they need. Allow for personal time off when possible, and don’t forget how big of an impact the little things can have– like mid-day walks outside. 

  • Be flexible when possible. In the post-pandemic world, many companies now have experience with the work-from-home setup. If it is possible for your business model, consider having hybrid options for your employees. Not only does this reduce the GHG impacts of commuting, it also offers your employees more freedom. Additionally, consider offering flexibility with their schedules. For businesses that don’t have hard start times, consider allowing your employees to develop their own work schedules. 

  • Appreciate varying workstyles. Everyone thrives in different situations. Some people love frequent check-ins to maintain a pulse on a project, while others loathe micromanaging. Figure out how your team works best! You can support them by offering flexibility, and suggesting different management tools that may help. There are tons of online applications available to help your business track projects and maximize productivity, allowing you to know exactly where a project stands without having to disrupt your employee’s workflow.

  • Have an open door policy. Allowing feedback makes it possible for growth and improvement to happen. You can also remove some of the anxiety and welcome more candid constructive criticism if you offer the opportunity for anonymous feedback with a suggestion box or anonymous Google Form.

  • Don’t forget to have fun! Facilitating opportunities for bonding outside of work can be a great way to encourage employee well-being. Consider happy hours, potlucks, or maybe some friendly competition with a game night! In the workplace, also consider having monthly meetings where personal highlights and happy life events can be shared. Fostering personal bonds by sharing your life outside of work increases employee morale and loyalty.
  • Have mission-driven work. Even if your business does not do mission-driven work, you can find ways to bring your employees together for common causes. This could take the form of group excursions to volunteer events at cleanups or shelters. You can also tie meaning to everyday work. Being or working towards being a Certified Green Business has meaning and impact, and can give your employees a sense of pride in where they work. Click here to find out more about the benefits of Green Business Certification!

COVID Ventilation & Cleaning

Covid Cleaning

As we move into our third year of COVID-19, we have learned a lot about the virus and how to best protect ourselves. As researchers have confirmed, the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is much higher for airborne transmission than in surface transmission. In fact, a professor at Michigan Public Health estimates that surface transmission is 1,000 times lower. While this alleviates some fear, cleaning and disinfecting properly are still important in curbing the spread of illnesses, especially on high-touch surfaces such as door knobs and handles. Since 2020, more resources and studies have become available that alleviate some of the uncertainty we experienced at the beginning of the pandemic. Read our updated cleaning recommendations, based off of CDC guidelines, that will help you safely disinfect your business without needing to compromise your health and environmental impact.

Safer Cleaning Products Work
It is a common misconception that “green cleaning” products do not work as well as “conventional” ones. We are here to reassure you, if you are using products with the correct active ingredients as directed, they are just as effective as conventional products. They are also safer for you, your employees, and your customers to be around. Selecting CAGBN permitted cleaning products also allows you to use less harmful chemicals that can leach into the environment. 

Clean before disinfecting
The CDC recommends always cleaning with soap and water prior to using disinfectants. This ensures that there is less debris interfering with the disinfectant’s efficacy. For more information on how to properly clean different types of surfaces within your business or facility, check out the CDC’s guidelines here. One of CAGBN’s core Green Business Practices is to use cleaning products (including anything from hand soap to all-purpose cleaner) that are either GreenSeal, EPA Safer Choice, or EWG rated ‘B’ or higher.  This ensures less environmental and health implications than traditional products. 

CAGBN recommends businesses to use the least harmful products in the lowest quantity possible in order to disinfect facilities. While we require our Certified Green Businesses to use hydrogen peroxide-based products rather than those that contain bleach, other safer cleaning products are available with active ingredients such as citric acid, lactic acid, ethyl alcohol (also called ethanol or just alcohol), isopropyl alcohol, peroxyacetic acid, or hypochlorous acid. *Note: Green Seal reminds us that “The combination of hydrogen peroxide and peroxyacetic acid is a designated AOEC asthmagen, so avoid products that contain both.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came out with the List N Tool database of products that meets their criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Although this comprehensive database can be helpful, especially if you are looking for more specialized disinfectants, it can be a bit overwhelming for some to navigate. If you find this to be the case for you, we recommend checking out the abbreviated list of less environmentally harmful products from Green Seal, all of which are also included in the EPA database. And a reminder: always use products as directed by the manufacturer printed on the label. 

Keep your business well ventilated 
Now that we know more about COVID-19 transmission, we know that it can be transmitted through direct contact as well as via airborne transmission. No matter how much you disinfect your business, it will not help to stop airborne transmission. Businesses can keep employees safer by ensuring your facility is well ventilated and your HVAC system is properly maintained. Below are some suggestions provided by the CDC (find their full list of recommendations here): 

  • Encourage outdoor air in your facility: Open windows and doors, as weather allows, to allow for natural air flow. 
  • Circulate indoor air with fans: In combination with open windows, add fans in strategically placed locations to increase ventilation. FAQs on this here 
  • Optimize central air filtration: Make sure your HVAC filters are regularly changed (at least twice per year) 
  • Use portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to enhance air cleaning  

Go Above and Beyond Cleaning 
Cleaning and disinfecting your business can help protect you and your employees from COVID-19, but cannot prevent it altogether. That being said, there are things you can do to help prevent the spread of any illness. Here are some additional suggestions to help keep your employees healthy: 

  • Although mask mandates and social distancing restrictions have been lifted, many people will still choose to wear a mask to protect themselves or an immunocompromised loved one. Provide surgical masks for employees and customers, and communicate to your employees that those who choose to wear a mask will be supported by your company. 
  • Continue to encourage standard health precautions. Hang signs in your bathrooms to remind people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, and to cover their coughs and sneezes. 
  • Expand sick leave for your employees and encourage them to stay home if feeling ill. Invest in equipment that allows employees to work from home if possible.
  • Provide vaccination clinics for your employees at your place of business. Many people can’t take time off to get a flu or Covid vaccine. Hosting a vaccine clinic at your place of business makes it easy for your employees to get vaccinated, and will save your company money in the long run by ensuring employees stay healthy. Contact your health care representative to see if this is an option for your business.
  • Keep up to date with the CDC’s current health and prevention guidelines and recommendations.


Electrify Your Business

Electrify Your Business

No matter where you get your information and news from these days, you can’t help but hear all the information coming out about electrification being the best environmental choice for the future. Whether you are considering an electric fleet of vehicles for your business or simply for your personal commute to work every day, there are a lot of choices to consider. But electrification goes far beyond electric vehicles and can be incorporated into your business facilities in many different ways to help you become even more efficient, save money, benefit the environment, and go above and beyond your Green Business certification.

Here are some resources to help you add more electrification to your business including adding electric vehicles, solar power, and heat pumps to your operations.

Electrify your Fleet Vehicles. Does your business have a vehicle fleet? Then you should seriously consider switching to electric vehicles (EVs). The total cost of operating a fleet of EVs (including maintenance and energy costs) is less than that of gasoline vehicles. The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has compiled some resources/contacts to help with the process of switching to EVs. See their Services for Transitioning to a Zero-Emission Fleet page to learn more. You can also check out your local service provider to see what programs they have available (such as PG&E’s incentive and rebates

Electrify Your Commute. Looking for a personal ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) for your commute to work? Search for different incentives using the search tool to look through incentives. You may also be eligible for a federal tax credit when you file your taxes for purchasing an EV. 

Electrify Your Heating. Change out your gas furnace and gas water heater for electric heat pumps, which are estimated to be between 3 and 4 times more efficient. Not only is it better for your wallet, but it also is better for your health and the environment! The Sierra Club estimates that if the average household replaced their gas furnace and gas water heater with electric heat pumps, they would reduce their emissions caused by heating by more than 45 percent over the next decade. 

Electrify Your Office Kitchen. Does your business have a gas stove in the staff kitchen? Consider replacing it with an induction one. Induction cooking is more efficient than cooking with gas (3 times more efficient) and is better for indoor air quality and the health of your employees. 

Electrify Your Building. Now is a great time to install solar at your business to save money on your electric bill. Take advantage of the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) while it is still available (it will disappear after 2025!). Currently, it is a 26% tax credit for purchased solar systems installed prior to December 31st, 2022. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guide to the Federal Investment Tax Credit for Commercial Solar Photovoltaics to learn more. You also may want to consider conducting an energy audit for your business. Energy Star estimates that annually in the United States, small businesses spend upwards of $60 billion on energy costs. Avoid whopping unnecessary costs by making sure things are operating as efficiently as possible.

Electrify Your Choices. Look into your local jurisdiction’s options for greener power and if offered, sign up for 100% renewable energy. Consider switching to your local Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), if available. Want to learn more about what a CCA is? Find more general information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s page on Community Choice Aggregation here. 

Electrify Your Network. By doing business with other energy-conscious businesses, the environmental benefits can grow exponentially beyond your business’s footprint (e.g., find suppliers with an EV fleet, landscapers that use all-electric/battery-operated power tools, etc.). Start by supporting other Green Businesses near you, find them on the new directory at

SB 1383 for Businesses



California is experiencing the effects of the climate crisis: hotter summers, longer fire seasons, extreme droughts, and rising sea levels. You may not think about food waste when it comes to the climate crisis, but according to CalRecycle, organic waste in landfills emit 20% of the state’s methane, a climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. To respond to the climate crisis, California is implementing a statewide organic waste recycling and surplus food recovery law: SB 1383. Starting January 1st, 2022, all jurisdictions in California will need to provide organic waste collection services to businesses and start collecting organic materials instead of sending them to the landfill. Edible food generators will also need to arrange to recover the maximum amount of their edible food that would otherwise go to landfills and maintain records. The new mandates can be confusing, read on to find out how this new law might impact your business. 


Starting January 1, 2022: All businesses in California (including apartment/condo complexes of five units or more) are now required to:

  • Divert organic materials from the landfill by
    • Subscribing to and participating in the organics collection service provided by your waste hauler,
    • OR self-haul organic waste to a specified composting facility, community composting program, or other collection activity or program. Records must be maintained of this service for amount of materials delivered to each facility.
  • Provide collection containers for organic waste and recyclables to employees, contractors, tenants, and customers.
    • Collection service must be arranged so that access to an adequate number, size, and location of containers with correct labels is available.
    • Provide indoor containers for organic waste and recyclables in all areas where disposal containers are provided for customers, except in restrooms (multi-family dwellings are exempt).
  • For all outdoor and indoor containers, the container bodies or lids shall conform to the following color scheme: gray/black for garbage, blue for recycling, and green for organics. In addition, containers shall have labels with graphic images to indicate primary materials accepted and prohibited.
  • Annually provide educational information about the legal requirements to compost and recycle including how to properly sort between the three waste streams. 


Starting on either January 1, 2022 OR January 1, 2024: Edible food waste generators are split into two tiers based on business type and must arrange to recover the maximum amount of their edible food that would otherwise go to landfills, and maintain records.


Tier 1 Businesses   Tier 2 Businesses
Tier One businesses must comply with edible food recovery requirements by Jan. 1st, 2022.   Tier Two businesses must comply with edible food recovery requirements by Jan. 1st, 2024. 
Supermarkets   Restaurants (with ≥ 250 seats, or ≥ 5,000 sq. ft.)
Grocery stores (with a total facility size ≥ 7,500 sq. ft.)   Hotels (with onsite food facility and ≥200 rooms)
Foodservice distributors   Health facilities (with onsite food facility and ≥100 beds)
Wholesale food markets   State agencies (with a cafeteria with ≥ 250 seats, or ≥ 5,000 sq. ft)
    Local education agencies (with an onsite food facility)
    Large venues
    Large events


Still confused about SB 1383? Checking out CalRecycle’s FAQs. Your local waste hauler should also be providing educational materials on what the rules and regulations are for your specific jurisdiction (and what exactly is accepted as food waste).