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.
This first week in April is “National Public Health Week.” What better time to reflect on the close connections between sustaining ourselves and our planet? This year, the American Public Health Association is focusing one day of National Public Health Week specifically on environmental health.
APHA’s goals around environmental health include:
Reduce our collective carbon emissions footprint. Transition to renewable energies. Protect our natural resources and use evidence-based policy to protect our air, water and food. Support environmental health efforts that monitor our communities for risks and develop health-promoting interventions. Call for transportation planning that promotes walking, biking and public transit — it not only reduces climate-related emissions, but helps us all stay physically active.
Learn more about the importance of environmental health, and what you can do at http://www.nphw.org/nphw-2018/environmental-health.
The Metro Nashville Department of General Services’ Division of Sustainability and Socket, Nashville’s Sustainability Outlet work to make Metro buildings, grounds, and operations harmonious with our visitors’ and employees’ health and the environment. Our electric and alternative fuel vehicles, 21 LEED® certified buildings, and efforts to inspire sustainable practices at the office and home all support people’s health and the wellbeing of the planet.
Richard H. Fulton Campus, managed by Department of General Services
Ultimately, the saying “what goes around, comes around” proves true. By ensuring that our everyday actions are respectful of the world around us, by being conservative with our natural resources, and by treating the planet with kindness, we are helping build better health and wellness for all people.
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.
Want to spend a day outside protecting native plants and keeping our Greenways and waterways beautiful?
The Cumberland River Compact, Socket, and Greenways for Nashville need your help on the Cumberland River Greenway to pull out invasive plants and clear space for native plants. Come out to make a difference in our biodiversity, to learn about the importance of native ecosystems, and to have some fun.
Your help is needed to pull out invasive weeds along the Cumberland River Greenway with hand tools. Please wear pants and heavy, durable shoes. Bring water, and any clippers, loppers, or other weeding tools you might have, and we will supply other tools. SIGN UP HERE.
Weed Wrangle®, is a one-day, citywide, volunteer effort to help rescue our public parks and green spaces from invasive species through hands-on removal of especially harmful trees, vines and flowering plants.
Nashville’s Earth Day Festival April 21, 2018
11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Nashville’s Earth Day Festival is a free, family friendly event with live entertainment through out the day celebrated each year in April. Socket will have a table, so come by and say hello. Mark your calendar for April 21 to enjoy music, food, education, and fun!
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!
“By being creative with food waste, utilizing compostable materials, and developing a composting/recycling program a restaurant can save considerable dollars over the long run... I definitely see a future in which Nashville leads the way for citywide composting and the restaurant community will be driving the charge.” – Jeremy Barlow, Owner of SLOCO restaurant
January 2018 -- Nashville, TN
On June 16, 2017, the Metro Nashville Fire Department's Station 19 was awarded the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award in Building Green for its LEED Platinum Certification. Station 19 is the first fire station to achieve this level of LEED certification in the entire southeast, a major achievement for both the Fire Department and the Metro Nashville Department of General Services.
Read the Tennessee Public Works Magazine article here.
Photo by Katherine Bomboy
The following information is provided as information for our users and does not constitute an endorsement of any product, service or individual by Socket or the Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County.
Nashville has many great options for locally crafted, sourced, fair trade and sustainable gifts for the holidays. Here are some suggestions for the season:
If food is a festive favorite for your friends and family, consider creating a menu with savory or sweet courses sourced from local Tennessee products available at local groceries, boutiques and the Nashville Farmer’s Market under the Pick Tennessee logo.
The bounty of offerings for your holiday party or family gathering include fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, honey, meats, poultry, eggs , sauces, condiments, seasonings, et cetera. Go by and check out the produce in the Farm Sheds or head inside the Market House to see the seasonal offerings of local food purveyors and vendors in the heart of downtown Nashville. Some local non-profits have upcoming holiday markets to inspire your holiday feasts, too!
Nashville also has a plethora of consignment stores and thrift shops that offer a second time around for clothing, jewelry, shoes, furniture and household goods.
Photo by Katherine Bomboy
Nashville boasts a gold mine of stores to find reasonably priced, sustainable gifts for your friends, family and pets. Making thrift and consignment purchases for the holidays helps keep like-new and valuable items out of Nashville’s landfill, making them a more sustainable option for gift-giving. It also prevents the extraction, transportation, and use of new materials to create brand new products. Buying secondhand and local also keeps carbon emissions down by eliminating long-distance shipping and packaging. Go one step further and consider alternative or no gift bags or wrapping paper. I use a colorful scarf or reusable tote bags to disguise holiday bounty for family and friends.
Consider giving an experience rather than a thing this year. Sustainable Travel experiences are possible with a little planning. Websites like the Tennessee Department of Tourism offer suggestions for local and regional travel and experiences that will get family and friends outside, active and engaged with people and places. With all the mountains, rivers, parks, caves and attractions available in Tennessee, there is an experience or tour for everyone. For example, did you know you can go on a free tour of the original Oak Ridge Manhattan Project sites and get a history lesson in the WW II development of atomic weapons that occurred in the area? Learn more about Department of Energy Facilities Public Bus Tour here.
How about a green gift idea that is actually green. Indoor plants bring joy year round and have numerous health benefits for home or office. Interior landscapes improve air quality by reducing carbon dioxide levels, reducing stress, improving memory and mental well-being and naturally adding coolness and humidity to the air through a process called evapotranspiration (USGS, Water Cycle). Don’t worry, there are several varieties of indoor plants that are easy to take care of for those without a green thumb. Many local groceries and nursery carry house plants that have co-benefits for humans such as Lavender, Ene Plant and Peace Lily. Add a colorful bow to the potted plant and you have a gift that will add beauty and health for months and years to come. With all of these great gift ideas that support our local economy and health and well-being, you are ready to give green this holiday season! Happy Holidays!
Photo by Katherine Bomboy