San Francisco Library Launches New Ecocard


The San Francisco Public Library is lending an ear to the landfill crisis by piloting a new library card program that substitutes plastic cards with ones made from corn. You’ve seen the corn utensils. This invention is just as ingenious, but it fits into your wallet much better.

Check out the new ecocard. It’s a true-blue alternative that might catch on in other cities if it proves to hold up to wear and tear. The card idea isn’t as corny as a baseball field of dreams, but I do believe if libraries bill it as the wave of the future, the rewards will come.

“Just like the issue of plastic water bottles, San Francisco is once again leading the way on alternatives to use of plastic,” explains Mayor Gavin Newsom. “By piloting a program to use biodegradable material for library cards, our Public Library is showing that real alternatives to the use of plastic exist.”

Corn is a sustainable and renewable resource unlike traditional petroleum-based plastics, and can be composted in the city’s composting system. We all know many plastic products never break down. Library patrons obtaining the new ecocards are being asked to share their e-mail addresses to answer a survey as part of an SF Environment test project to evaluate its durability and usability.

“We hope the new corn-based cards will turn out to be a good alternative to the traditional plastic library cards and that we can one day create all of the city’s library cards out of sustainable materials,” says Deputy City Librarian Jill Bourne. “The card is just one more way that the Library is working to instill more environmentally-conscious practices in its operations while providing public information, programming and events focused on green issues.”

Meantime, the Library is still distributing its traditional cards which come in four colorful designs created by San Francisco students as well as a “classic” design. To avoid adding materials to the waste stream, the new ecocard will only be offered for free to new library card holders and may be obtained as a replacement for a lost card for a $1 fee.


The old cards are visually exciting, but not as healthy for the planet. “Once the eocards cards can no longer be used, people can return them to the earth by putting them in the city’s green compostables cart,” says Jack Macy, Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator at SF Environment.

The card is the latest step in the new Green-Stacks Program, a partnership with SF Environment and Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, designed to promote sustainable and renwable efforts at the Library and around the City.

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.