How To Get Involved
Earth Month is a time to celebrate the beauty and diversity of our planet, and to renew our commitment to protecting it. As residents of Chattanooga, we have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on our environment right here in our own community. By making small changes in our daily habits and routines, we can help reduce waste, conserve resources, and protect our natural world.
Here are some ideas for how you can make a difference in Chattanooga this Earth Month:
- Start by reducing your use of single-use plastics. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store, invest in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, glass straws, and opt for reusable containers instead of disposable ones when packing lunches or storing leftovers. Find refillable hand soap and dish soap containers instead of using plastic containers.
Try using compostable, recyclable, or sturdy washable snack bags instead of plastic ziplock bags. Here are some options from Amazon.
Here are a few other reusable household items that we’ve tested out and really like…
- Even if you are recycling your plastics, it’s best to find alternatives to those single-use plastics because it takes water, chemicals, and electricity to put your plastic water bottle through the process of being recycled and made into something else.
- At the office, install a water refill station so people can refill their reusable water bottles. Be sure to keep the filter changed to keep people coming back for refills.
- Instead of using lots of paper towels for kitchen clean-up and/or napkins, use washable kitchen towels, reusable napkins, and reusable paper towels. Check out Geometry House’s line of towels and napkins which are made using post-consumer materials, which help to reduce waste.
- Use biodegradable dish soap, hand soap, and laundry detergent to help keep our waterways cleaner. Look for brands like Seventh Generation, Meyers, Blueland, and others.
- Start using rechargeable batteries with battery charger instead of throwing batteries away. With electric vehicle sales expected to increase, the earth is expecting to see a lithium shortage. Rechargeable batteries will help to save the precious resource of lithium.
- Plant a tree, start a garden, or use native or natural landscaping in your yard. Not only will this beautify your community, but it will also help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide habitat for local wildlife.
- In your garden, try to use organic soils and fertilizers. Also use environmentally safe insecticides instead of hazardous and dangerous chemicals which can harm you, your pets, and the super-important pollinators like bees and butterflies. One great alternative is Neem Oil which is pet and wildlife friendly, organic and biodegradable, and can be used for lots of things including pest control from mosquitos, caterpillars, aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, garden grubs, and gnats on indoor plants. Neem oil is also a great fungicide and bactericide that can treat black spot, rust, leaf spot, among others. We found out about Neem oil when volunteering at the Tennessee Aquarium in the tropical plant locations. Click this link to learn more about Neem Oil.
- Gather up some friends and host a neighborhood cleanup party or join a local clean-up event. Members of our team, Crisler Torrence and Debbie Sue Przybysz, are involved in the yearly event, Sparkle St. Elmo Trash Clean-Up, where the St. Elmo community comes together to clean up litter and junk from around St. Elmo. Many organizations in Chattanooga host regular clean-up events to remove litter and debris from our parks, waterways, and public spaces. Check out Green Steps and Green Spaces or Google “Earth Day events near me” to get involved.
- Host a dinner party that features all local food.
- Use public transportation, bike, or walk instead of driving alone. Chattanooga has an excellent public transit system, bike share program, and plenty of scenic walking trails. By choosing alternative modes of transportation, we can reduce our carbon footprint and help alleviate traffic congestion.
- Compost food waste. Food waste is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions when it breaks down in landfills. Start a compost bin at home or participate in a community compost program, like NewTerra, to divert food waste from the landfill and create nutrient-rich soil. If you don’t have room for a full-on compost heap or bin, you can also bury small organic and veggie scraps directly in your garden to help add nutrients back into the soil. See our Spring Garden blog post for more about how to try this composting alternative. One thing we have been doing at home instead of composting is saving veggie scraps in the freezer to make delicious meals later on. With these small random scraps, it’s possible to make the most delicious veggie broths or add flavor and nutrients to soups, pasta sauces, savory rice, casseroles, salads, quiches, and more just by pulling out those frozen scraps and using them later. Click here for recipes that help reduce waste at home.
- Shop locally and sustainably. Supporting local farmers by hitting up your local farmer’s market or the Chattanooga Market. By supporting local businesses you are helping to reduce the environmental impact of transporting goods long distances. Look for products made from sustainable materials and choose eco-friendly alternatives whenever possible
- Recycle using the Hefty Orange Bag Program. You can now recycle hard-to-recycle plastics! Chattanooga is one of a handful of places around the country actively participating in the Hefty program, so be sure to take full advantage of this service. Once you fill up a bag, your orange bag can be dropped off at most local recycling centers. Check Hefty’s website for details.
- 5955 Brainerd Road
- 1250 E. 3rd Street
- 3189 Cummings Hwy
- 8004 Batters Place Road
- 4504 N. Access Road
Your previously hard-to-recycle plastic waste is recycled and made into the following:
- Alternative fuel for manufacturing cement, reducing the need for natural resources like coal
- Aggregate material for concrete blocks, plastic lumber, and other building products
- New plastic products such as park benches, and Adirondack chairs
- Feedstocks that can be refined into high-grade fuels or converted back into plastics
** Make a trip to your recycling center to recycle glass and large cardboard boxes instead of throwing these things away.
- Spend time enjoying nature. Studies have shown that cities and neighborhoods that have beautiful greenery can cut down on crime and litter. When we spend time enjoying our surroundings and our amazing city, we are more likely to want to help maintain the beauty by picking up litter when we see it.
- If you see litter or illegal dumping, graffiti, old furniture on the sidewalk, dangerous items in the road, or if you have yard waste and piles of leaves on the street, submit a 311 request through the chattanooga.gov website.
- By keeping your neighborhood looking nice, you are helping to increase your property value! By making these small changes in our daily lives, we can all play a role in protecting the environment around us in Chattanooga. Let’s celebrate Earth Day by taking action to preserve our planet for future generations. Together, we can make a positive impact and create a more sustainable and beautiful world.
Thank you for doing your part to make our community a better place!