Trees are one of the most integral components of the urban landscape. Trees sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, improve air quality, reduce soil erosion by catching precipitation in their leaf canopies, and lower air temperatures in urban areas – among many other things.
In efforts to take full advantage of the benefits trees offer, several city initiatives place their focus on sprouting and sustaining the urban canopy. The Livable Nashville Committee, a Mayor-appointed group of public and private leaders charged with enhancing environmental quality in Nashville, discovered that between 2008 and 2016, the tree canopy in Nashville had fallen from 28% to 24%. To remedy this situation, the committee has recommended planting 500,000 trees in Davidson County by 2050.
Metro Nashville Government recently elevated the importance of trees by enacting Executive Order Number 40 on January 19, 2018. Several city departments, including Water Services, Parks, Codes Administration, Public Works, General Services, and Planning work together to conduct tree-related programs under the Order. The Urban Forestry Program Manager, Naomi Rotramel, leads communication between these agencies, as well as other non-governmental partners. In addition to establishing trees as a critical part of Nashville infrastructure, the Mayor mandated that tree plantings and removals be closely monitored and reported, that street trees and trees on Metro property be inventoried, and that a professional tree-care contractor be hired. In the face of rapid urban development in Nashville, the Order is a vital piece of policy securing a green future for a growing city.
Along with the proactive work being done within Metro government, various nonprofits in Nashville advocate for the protection and expansion of the city’s urban forest. Examples include: Nashville Tree Foundation, SoundForest, Cumberland River Compact, Hands on Nashville, Tennessee Environmental Council, and Arbor Day Foundation. All of these nonprofits offer opportunities to donate to or volunteer in the cause of making Nashville a greener city. If you would like to spearhead your own tree planting initiative, follow these links to learn how. Socket's recent Arbor Day blog provides a great history of how people celebrate trees by planting.
Maryam Muhammad, Summer Intern with the Division of Sustainability, authored this blog.
When we think health, we typically think of nutrition and exercise, but we often forget about our mind. Health encompasses both the body and mind. Here are some tips to bring “whole” health to your day.
1) Practice Gratitude: We all know stress is bad for your health and can raise your blood pressure. Start the day off right by practicing gratitude first thing in the morning. Write down or say aloud a few specific things you are grateful for. This will help put you in a positive frame of mind before tackling the day ahead. For more ideas go here.
2) Stretch: Try a few stretches after getting out of bed to loosen up your muscles. This will reduce risk of injury and allow you to exercise longer, which keeps your heart healthy! Try a few stretches towards the end of the day as well when you feel tense. Here are some desk stretches to relieve tension.
3) Have a heart healthy breakfast: Try some low-fat Greek yogurt topped with berries, seeds or nuts. Low-fat dairy has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and the protein in Greek yogurt will help you feel full. Here are a few others to try.
4) Use lunchtime for a walk or workout: Try to squeeze in some movement throughout the day. Get up and do a few laps around the office or spend half of your lunch time going for a walk. This can help decrease stress but also get in some exercise. Resistance training is also great way to benefit your heart and muscles as well. For some basic resistance exercises go here.
5) Reset your mind after work: After sitting in traffic after a long day at work this is needed. Try listening to mood-boosting music in the car to help ease the tension of rush hour. Love on your furry friend when you get home. Try this simple exercise: Take a deep breath in through your nose feeling the breath start in your belly and work its way to your head for a count of 7 and exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 7.
This blog post was written by Heather Snell, Preventive Health and Wellness Coordinator at the Metro Nashville Health Department. It first appeared in the MPHD Healthy Nashville Newsletter - May 2018.
As Socket relaxed under a shade tree recently, he began to wonder: “Why do we celebrate trees each year on Arbor Day?” Socket did some digging and revealed the answers!
April is Earth Month and each of us plays a role in conserving our planet’s natural resources. Fortunately, we can start with something as simple as a trip to the grocery store. Here are some practical tips from Socket to make your next grocery run a green and fun one!
Can you remember the last time you saw a dark night sky, full of stars and planets, in vivid detail? For many of us living in the world’s cities, the answer may be “no” or “never.” When we think of pollution, we don’t often think of the lights that line our streets and illuminate our buildings. This week is International Dark Sky Week, so let’s dive into some related questions: what is light pollution, what are its effects, and how can we manage it?
Our health and the health of our planet are inextricably intertwined. When we take a walk in the woods or gaze at a natural scene, our stress levels decrease, and our mental health improves. When temperatures and humidity exceed certain thresholds, incidence of heatstroke and heat exhaustion skyrocket. When we consume fresh, whole foods and pure water, our physical health and energy improve. When air quality is compromised by pollution, cases of asthma flare up.
Whether you celebrated Punxsutawney Phil’s findings this year or not, it is likely that Nashville will face a bit more freezing weather. In preparation, the Department of General Services Division of Sustainability wishes to remind employees and residents about best practices for de-icing (the process of removing snow and/or ice from a surface). Safety is the most important consideration for de-icing and snow clearing efforts, but it is important to remember that de-icing materials impact more than the snow or ice they melt. How and when we use these materials is essential to the health of our environment.
The most effective de-icing agents have chemical formulas containing chloride and acetate. Salt (NaCl) is the most common. But others, such as magnesium chloride (MgCl2) and potassium acetate (CH3CO2K) are common examples too. Unfortunately, these extraordinary “melters” have negative effects on the environment. Some of these negative effects include preventing plants from absorbing moisture, leaching heavy metals, and creating algae blooms. Although researchers continue to pursue a completely safe alternative to those formulas containing chloride and acetate, none yet exists. Brands that advertise eco-friendly products often still contain large proportions of chloride or acetate; or, these brands are not effective at temperatures below freezing!
So what CAN you do?
1. Wear Proper Shoes
Boots with a solid toe and bottom tread will help increase your grip on icy surfaces.
2. Shovel First
Shovel snow early and often; then decide whether to use a de-icing agent. If you must use a de-icer, your shoveling will not have been in vain. De-icers work best on thin layers of precipitation.
3. Don’t Over-apply
Use just enough. A general rule is 2 lbs. of de-icer for every 500 sq. ft. One pound of de-icer is approximately one heaping 12 oz. coffee mug.
4. Place Carefully
Apply materials only where needed and keep de-icing materials away from plants and foliage.
5. Clean up and Reuse
Sweep up left over salt and store it properly for reuse. This saves money and keeps unused product from washing into streams and rivers, where it can negatively impact the aquatic ecosystem.
Material for this blog was compiled from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies’ 2010 report, Road Salt: Moving Toward the Solution. Follow the link to the report below for further reading: http://www.caryinstitute.org/sites/default/files/public/reprints/report_road_salt_2010.pdf
Blog author, Mr. Jake Rachels, is an intern with the Division of Sustainability.
The ultimate mission of the Department of Metro General Services is to provide beautiful, healthy, safe, sustainable, functional and long lasting public buildings and spaces. Specifically, General Services’ Sustainability Division integrates sustainable practices throughout the department’s projects and operations with the goal to reduce energy, waste, carbon and greenhouse gas emissions while also educating Metro employees and the Nashville community about sustainability.
Winter is definitely here, but the days and hours we can spend outdoors in daylight are growing by minutes each day. With Spring just around the corner, now is the time to get familiar with the enjoyable outdoor spaces Nashville offers its residents and guests. It may seem hard to find nature in an urban setting, but in addition to its city parks, Nashville boasts almost 90 miles of paved greenways that connect people and activities throughout the city. It’s time to take a second look at your greenways!