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!
“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, Former 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
Fall is finally here! But what do you do with all the brightly-colored autumn leaves and summer growth now faded?
Fall leaves can cause damage to lawns and storm water drains if not properly mulched, composted or disposed of. Blowing or raking leaves into the street causes problems for you, your neighbors and the city if storm water drains get clogged and cannot adequately drain rain water. Make sure to rake up and clear the area around ditches and storm drains. If you have a neighborhood association, remind your neighbors to keep the area around the neighborhood drains clear of debris and trash. Whatever goes into storm water drains goes directly into our city’s streams and rivers.
Storm water drains clogged with Fall leaves and other trash can cause flooding and other road hazards.
Fallen leaves, what professionals call “leaf litter,” accumulate under trees can suffocate grass and other plantings. Here are four easy options to properly dispose of your fallen splendor. All you need is a rake or electric blower, a battery-powered lawnmower, biodegradable paper lawn and leaf bags, and a few helping hands.
1) Once the fun of jumping in leaf piles is over, you can use your electric lawnmower to shred leaves into mulch size pieces that then can be spread over flowerbeds to provide nutrients all winter.
2) Another option is to collect the mulched leaves and add them to your compost. Add fresh cut grass or a compost activator to get the compost pile cooking! For more information on composting go to the Metro Public Works site. If you don’t have a composter (or want to start your holiday shopping early), you can purchase one at the Omohundro Convenience Center.
3) Residents in Metro Nashville’s Urban and General Services Districts can have their brush and yard waste collected at no charge. For Fall and Winter pick-up dates see the 2017-2018 schedule. All leaves must be bagged in biodegradable paper bags for collection. You can purchase biodegradable paper lawn and leaf bags at your local grocery or hardware store. Metro will not pick up yard waste in plastic bags. Remember that you can always take your bagged leaves to one of Metro Nashville’s drop off sites.
4) If you want to give back to your community, non-profits like The Nashville Food Project (TNFP) would love to use your bagged leaves to feed their gardens. TNFP invites residents to drop off bagged leaves and pine needles at their Wedgwood Urban Garden. For more specific information go to https://www.thenashvillefoodproject.org/contact/ or call 615-460-0172.
Please protect our waterways and your property by properly disposing of leaves. Most importantly, have fun. Happy Fall, from Socket!
Halloween is full of creativity and spooky fun. This year, make sure the holiday is a treat – not a trick – for the planet, by following these six Green Halloween tips.
1. Secondhand or Upcycled Costume
Even scarier than the pricetag of a brand new Halloween costume may be environmental cost it exacts. It takes energy, water, and other natural resources to make costumes. Imagine buying new clothes that you only wear once; that’s essentially what many of us do at Halloween. Instead of buying new, consider sourcing your costume from a second hand store, or creating your own out of items you already have around the house. This is an opportunity to save money, get creative, and guarantee a one-of-a-kind costume!
2. Sustainable Décor
Plastic spiders, glittery witches, and synthetic skeletons are fun, but their production, shipping, and disposal all take a toll on the environment. If you deck out your place for the holiday, consider investing in some good quality decorations that you will use for many years to come. Or, get crafty and use items that you already have at home or can source secondhand.
The number and variety of secondhand stores in Nashville keeps growing. While getting great deals, you may also be supporting a nonprofit’s community work. For secondhand art supplies, fabric, and more, check out SmART! and Turnip Green Creative Reuse.
3. Walk or Bike to Trick-Or-Treat
Instead of hopping in the car, choose the method of transportation that’s healthier for you and the planet. Walking or biking to your trick-or-treat destination or party saves fuel, prevents air pollution, and gives you exercise. Who knows, you may even burn enough calories to justify an extra piece of chocolate!
For a list of bike share stations in your area, check out Nashville B-Cycle.
4. Reusable Bags
Just like for grocery shopping or buying clothes or home goods, don’t forget your reusable bags for each of your trick-or-treaters. Like a Christmas stocking, a personalized cloth Halloween bag can become a holiday tradition. Plus, a bag with your name on it helps deter candy thieves… maybe!
5. Eco-Friendly Candy
Speaking of candy, choose to give out sweets with a conscience. Fair trade chocolate or hard candies made with natural sugars or organic ingredients are better for the planet and the candy consumers. Some candy makers are even using recycled content wrappers and vegetable based dyes and inks. A quick online search will yield a wealth of healthy(ish) Halloween treats that are eco friendly(er).
6. Compost Your Pumpkin
When the fun is done and all that’s left is a tummy ache from too much candy, be sure you compost your pumpkin. In fact, those leaves in your yard, the dead flowerheads, and your kitchen scraps can all go in to the compost. Doing so keeps these valuable organic materials out of the landfill. In landfills, organics produce methane as they decompose anaerobically. By composting instead, you ensure that food and yard waste becomes a valuable soil amendment in the form of compost.
Metro Nashville Public Works now provides free drop off of household food waste at their East and Omohundro Convenience Centers. And the city collects yard waste, such as brush and leaves, four times per year. If you can’t wait, you can also drop your yard waste free of charge at one of three locations.
Happy Hallow-Green – from Socket! As you observe holidays throughout the year, remember that Socket encourages you to take a sustainable approach to celebrating, whatever the season.