Have you ever thought about how a trail is actually created? When I first began hiking, I was far too consumed with my natural surroundings to consider the work put in to design and construct a trail. Then I spent a Sunday morning rerouting the Fiery Gizzard Trail with Team Green Adventures, and my outlook on hiking trails was changed forever.
Hiking trails do not just appear out of thin air. They are created with in-depth forethought and are paved by nature lovers abound. Designing a trail requires proper vision with the most sustainable route in mind. Think long-term. How can we design a trail so it can be used for the next 50+ years, with the minimal amount of maintenance needed to keep it safe and functional?
Whether you’re new to Nashville or have lived here your whole life, we all know that recycling can be a challenge. Do you need to remove that plastic film from your envelopes before you toss them in with the rest of the paper? Can you recycle styrofoam? And what’s the deal with pizza boxes?! Earlier this week, we hosted another installment of our Engage Green sustainability workshop series with Urban Green Lab to help get some of your most pressing recycling questions answered. Here are the 10 most helpful things we learned:
So do you need to need to remove the plastic film windows from things like envelopes and pasta boxes before you recycle them? Nope! While it certainly doesn’t hurt to remove them and recycle them with the rest of your plastic bags and films (more on this later), the modern paper recycling process is equipped to handle a small amount of contaminants like these little windows, so there’s no need for you to take the time to separate these pieces before recycling your boxes and envelopes. On a related note, you also don’t have to remove tape and staples from cardboard boxes before you place them in with the rest of your recyclables.
2. Pizza Boxes
What’s the deal with pizza boxes? Can you recycle them? Yes and no. If your pizza box is covered in grease, it cannot be recycled because the grease is considered a contaminant in the paper recycling process (oil and water don’t mix, and water is used in the pulping process when paper and cardboard are recycled). Some pizza boxes, however, come with liners on the bottom, protecting the exterior box from being soaked with grease. In this case, recycle your pizza box! If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also cut the top of your pizza box off and just recycle that half, since those little cheese protector tripods usually prevent the top of the box from getting greasy.
Glass is not recyclable through Metro’s curbside recycling program! Glass is heavy, making hauling costs really expensive, and most curbside bins are not equipped to handle the weight of glass. For this reason, you can only recycle glass at one of Metro’s recycling convenience centers around town. If you do throw glass in your curbside bin, it’s considered a contaminant and will be sent directly to the landfill (more on this later), so don’t do it!
4. Plastic Bags and Films
Plastic shopping bags, bread bags and other films are all part of the LDPE (low-density polyethelene) family of plastics, usually labeled with the number 4. These types of plastic cannot be recycled in your curbside bin, but many grocery stores will take them for free as long as they’re clean. You can also recycle zip-lock bags this way, as long as you cut the zipper portion off first.
All styrofoam is considered to be in a class of waste called “expanded plastics.” These materials are not recyclable through Metro’s curbside recycling program, even if they have a recycling symbol and number on them! On the bright side, some Publix grocery stores will take your old egg cartons and recycle them for you.
6. Black plastic trays
Once upon a time, you couldn’t recycle black plastic trays (like the ones you find in microwaveable dinners) in Nashville. Usually made of plastic #1, these trays are often easily recyclable, but were difficult to detect by sorting machines during the recycling intake process, which is why they weren’t allowed in your recycling bin. Advances in sorting technology have changed the rules on this, so go ahead and throw these in with the rest of your recycling – just rinse them first (more on this later)!
7. Plastic Bottle and Can Labels
Do you need to remove paper labels from plastic bottles or steel cans before recycling them? No way! Both plastics and metals are eventually melted down at really high temperatures (up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit for steel), and these paper labels don’t stand a chance in that heat, so don’t worry about removing them!
8. Food Contaminants
People are often curious how well you need to clean something before you toss it in the recycling. The general rule is to give anything that had food in it a good rinse before you recycle it. You’ll want to try to get rid of any large food particles as well as large amounts of things like sauces and gravies. While all plastic and metal recyclables are cleaned at recycling facilities, large amounts of food residue can contaminate paper and cardboard recycling while in transit (because Metro Nashville’s curbside recycling program is single-stream, meaning all recyclables are placed in the same bin). Basically, small amounts of food won’t hurt, so you don’t have to throw recycling in your dishwasher before you recycle it, but you will want to give things like yogurt or pasta sauce containers a reasonable rinse before disposing of them.
9. Milk Cartons
Yes, wax-coated cardboard milk cartons can be recycled! The same goes for any and all of those Tetra Pak-style containers like what you often find coconut water, orange juice, or easily-portable wine in. And no, you don’t have to worry about removing the plastic spout from these containers before you toss them in the recycling. Drink up, Nashville!
10. Aerosol cans
As long as they’re completely empty, aerosol cans can be recycled along with your other aluminum and steel containers in your curbside bin, so you don’t even have to worry about taking them to a special drop-off center.
Bonus: “Aspirational Recycling”
As mentioned before, contaminants can mess up the recycling process if present in large quantities. Anything that doesn’t fit into Metro’s requirements is considered a “contaminant,” even if those things can be recycled elsewhere (e.g. egg cartons or plastic bags). If contaminants are present at a rate of over 20%, then Metro doesn’t get paid for that batch of recycling, which raises disposal costs in the long run. Given that, Public Works encourages everyone to avoid being an “aspirational recycler,” or the type of person who throws something in their recycling bin with the noble thought that “this seems like it should be recyclable, so I don’t want to throw it away, and Metro will sort it out anyways if it’s not recyclable…”. If you’re unsure if something can be recycled or not, look it up!
In addition to some of these recycling tips, we also learned several other fun facts about waste disposal more generally in Nashville. Here are some of the best ones:
It costs Metro Nashville $34.50/ton to landfill garbage, which added up to more than $5 million in landfill costs in 2014. Conversely, Metro makes money on every ton of recycling they collect, so the more we recycle, the lower our waste disposal costs are and the higher our chances of making waste disposal a net financial win overall!
Metro collects roughly 30,000 tons of yard waste per year and turns much of it into mulch, which is available for purchase to the general public (at a really low cost!) at Metro’s Bordeaux facility.
Metro will haul away your bulk trash items for free if you request it! Eligible items include furniture, appliances, car parts, and more.
Several of Metro Nashville’s Recycling Drop-Off Sites are at local public schools. These schools are in charge of monitoring these areas and keeping them clean, and in return, Metro pays the schools $15/ton of recycled material. That means you can support your local school while recycling your waste – a win for kids and Mother Nature alike!
East Recycling Center is the rockstar of all of Metro’s recycling facilities. As your best one-stop shop for properly disposing of anything and everything, they’ll take things no other drop-off center in Nashville will take, including household hazardous waste and refrigerators. If you need to get rid of something and aren’t sure where to take it, give the East Recycling Center a call first.
Still have questions? Check out the Metro Nashville Recycling Services website for more information. A big thanks again to Metro Public Works for taking the time to show us around their facility, and keep on recycling, Nashville!
Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again – the weather is hot, school is back in session, and Lightning 100’s Live on the Green is returning! This year marks the 7th time we’ll be taking over Public Square Park for the biggest free concert series in town, and we hope you’ll join us for the fun!
Live on the Green started with a vision to create an event that was by Nashville and for Nashville, and we’ve always tried to make sure the festival embodies the values Music City stands for. For that reason, sustainability has always been a central component of Live on the Green’s mission, as we want to host an event that is as environmentally and socially responsible as possible. The festival takes place in what is perhaps Nashville’s most eco-friendly park, where the courthouse lawn doubles as a green roof over a parking garage and the fountains use recycled rainwater to supply Nashvillians young and old with a place to cool off on a hot summer day.
We do as much as possible to make our event sustainable, but we need your help to make it happen! As a follow-up to our Buzzfeed feature on 10 reasons to be excited about Live on the Green, here are 10 ways you can help us and our community partners make 2015 the most environmentally-responsible year of Live on the Green yet:
1. Ride A Bike
Each year, we partner with Walk Bike Nashvilleto host a free bike valet for anyone who wants to use a little pedal power to get to Live on the Green. Last year, more than 800 Nashvillians biked to Live on the Green, setting a new record for bike valet usage. We’re hoping for an even greater number this year, and with the capacity to check more than 250 bikes during each show date, we think we can do it! Bonus: You can also ride a Bcycle to Live on the Green, with three convenient check-in locations near Public Square Park, including at the bike valet station at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Union St.
2. Take the Bus
Taking the bus is one of the easiest ways to get to and from Public Square Park, and it’ll save you a lot of money over paying for parking downtown (one-way fares are just $1.70). Music City Central (Nashville’s main bus terminal) is located just a block from the park, and the Music City Circuit is a great option to get from downtown to Germantown, SoBro, or The Gulch. Bonus: Music City Circuit buses are free! Check out Nashville MTA’s website to learn all you need to know about riding the bus, including how to bring your bike on the bus if you happen to ride to the festival but don’t want to ride home after dark. You can also take a peek at Transit Now Nashville’s handy trip planner if you’re unsure of which bus you need to take to get to the festival – it’s so easy!
If you live or work downtown, we definitely encourage you to walk to the festival! Bring a change of clothes to work and show up early to Public Square Park to get a good spot on the lawn. The festival site officially opens at 5pm, meaning you can grab dinner from one of our delicious food trucks and save yourself a trip home. If you walk, you also avoid the hassles that downtown traffic and parking can cause, creating a headache-free Live on the Green experience for you and your friends.
If you must drive into downtown, please carpool! You’ll save money by splitting parking costs with friends and do your part to help reduce traffic and air pollution downtown caused by idling cars trying to find a parking spot. Parking is easiest in the Nissan Stadium lots just across the river, so please utilize these resources whenever possible and avoid driving downtown altogether. Bonus: For the first time ever, we’re partnering with Uber this year to host an official Live on the Green pick-up and drop-off lane. You can see the drop-off location at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Union Street on our official 2015 festival map, and Uber makes it easy to split the fare with friends!
We’ve always tried to divert as much of our waste as possible from landfills, but we need your help to make this happen! Recycling stations are clearly marked and located throughout the event site, so please use them. This year, we’re switching to selling all beer in aluminum cans because they’re the most recyclable and eco-friendly option available to us. Bonus: Hands On Nashville volunteers will be stationed throughout the festival to help you dispose of your food and drink waste properly, so be sure to give these folks a high five when you see them and thank them for their help! Want to go one step further and volunteer yourself? Do it.
6. Bring a Reusable Bottle
It’s August in Nashville, and we know it gets hot! Every year, we partner with Metro Water Services to provide you with free drinking water on site to help keep you hydrated and happy. Bring a reusable water bottle to Live on the Green this year and take advantage of this complimentary service! Your body, and your wallet, will thank you.
7. Eat Some Food
Did you know Live on the Green encourages all of its food vendors to use eco-friendly and compostable serviceware? We make sure that nobody is using harmful products like styrofoam, and we also advocate for the use of locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. It makes it even better that all of our food trucks are small local businesses, so eating dinner at Live on the Green means you’re actively supporting Nashville-based entrepreneurs – a win-win for the environment and the local economy!
8. Buy a Souvenir
We partner with Friendly Arctic Printing & Design to produce all of our generally awesome limited-run Live on the Green merchandise, meaning you can both feel and look good when you buy a hand-printed t-shirt, tank, or poster. Friendly Arctic uses only the most eco-responsible methods and supplies (they only use water-based inks, among other things) to print their products, and their high-quality work is designed to last a long time, ensuring you get a truly sustainable shirt.
9. Take What You Need
It’s easy to get excited about all the free stuff at Live on the Green. From the music to the promotional giveaways, there’s so much going on around the festival that won’t cost you a dime that it’s not hard to get carried away. Whether you’re grabbing yourself a super cool Lightning 100 sticker or koozie, some handy Erie Insurance sunglasses, or any of the other swag you find around the festival, be sure to only take what you need and leave the rest for someone else – Mother Nature, and the other festival-goers, will thank you.
10. Clean Up After Yourself
We want you to have a blast at the show, enjoy some food and a few drinks, and dance your heart out to your favorite songs, but sometimes having a lot of fun can get messy. On your way out of Public Square Park, make sure you pick up any trash lying around on the ground and dispose of it properly. As mentioned before, there are tons of recycling bins around the site, so put them to use! We rely on volunteers to clean up anything left on the site after each show, and as much as they love to lend a hand, they’re not your mothers! A little effort on your part goes a long way, and means that we get to keep hosting Live on the Green year after year… for free!
If you want to learn even more about Live on the Green’s sustainability efforts, check out the festival’s website, where you can also find out all you need to know about the music lineup, check on VIP ticket availability, and see photos and videos from past years. You can also download our newly-released and seriously awesome Live on the Green festival app to stay up to date on all things LOTG2015. We can’t wait to see you out there on Thursday!
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you may remember that we did a feature on making your beer drinking a little more eco-friendly back in January. In that blog, we highlighted some of the efforts local breweries are making to minimize their environmental footprint, focusing on the work being done by our friends at Little Harpeth Brewing. This past Wednesday, Little Harpeth invited us to their brewery to take a little tour and chat more in depth about their sustainability mission as a part of our Engage Green workshop series with Urban Green Lab. We learned a ton, and wanted to showcase some of that new-found knowledge for you here if you weren’t able to make it to the workshop!
Little Harpeth’s sustainability mission began long before Michael Kwas, Founder, and Steve Scoville, Head Brewer, started producing beer in their current facility at 30 Oldham Street, a nondescript warehouse on the bank of the Cumberland in East Nashville. To prep their building for brewing, the Little Harpeth team had to completely gut the existing space and rebuild it to suit their needs, creating the potential for a lot of demolition debris. Kwas jokes that they’re not sure if they did this because they’re cheap or because they care about the environment, but they managed to salvage roughly 80% of their demolition debris for reuse in the construction of their new space, saving or recycling everything from electrical wire and wooden studs to doors frames and hardware. To outfit their new space, they utilized local resources like Habitat ReStore and Metro Nashville E-Bid, and were able to purchase the paneling for their walk-in cooler from a nearby scrap yard, making reuse a cornerstone of their build-out mission.
Not only was the construction of Little Harpeth’s space a highly-sustainable endeavor, but they also made it a point to show us how they take the environment into consideration throughout their brewing process as well. They source much of the corn used in their brewing process from mills in Middle Tennessee and North Georgia, minimizing the environmental impact of their ingredient sourcing when compared to other breweries that get their supplies from farmers in the Midwest and West. They also source 80% of their malt from Rahr Malting, who produces malt without the use of electricity. Additionally, Little Harpeth utilizes a high-efficiency boiler and only boils their wort for 15 minutes, allowing for a 60% reduction in energy use during the boiling process when compared to their peer breweries.
Finally, the whole beer-making process wouldn’t be sustainable without thinking about how the end product is distributed and consumed. Little Harpeth utilizes donated used pallets to ship their kegs around Middle Tennessee, and they tie these kegs down with reusable ratchet ties, rather than the traditional heavy-duty plastic wrap, eliminating the waste that is often generated through keg distribution. The team is also looking into canning their beer in coming months. Why canning, you may ask? Aluminum is lighter than glass to distribute and also takes up less room, allowing canned beer to be shipped in a more environmentally-friendly manner than glass bottles (more beer per delivery truck). Additionally, recycling rates are much higher for aluminum than for glass in Nashville because Metro Nashville only accepts glass at specific drop-off facilities and not in their curbside pickup program, making the immediate environmental benefit to Nashville clear.
If you want to learn even more about Little Harpeth’s sustainability initiatives, brewing process, and beer varieties, including the work they’re doing to support the Middle Tennessee honey bee population, check out their website!
To round out our learning experience, Little Harpeth generously offered everyone some beer samples in return for donations to the Harpeth River Watershed Association, a local non-profit focused on preserving and protecting the Harpeth River and its tributaries. We may be a little biased in saying this, but the beer tastes that much better when you know it’s brewed with the environment in mind. Cheers to Little Harpeth and all the other craft breweries that are making an effort to brew responsibly, and here’s to more breweries big and small making greater efforts towards increased sustainability in the years to come – a win for both beer drinkers and Mother Nature alike!
Now that Spring has sprung, and the sun has finally joined us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to start enjoying some outdoor festivals full of food, beer, activities, and entertainment! These events celebrate the good weather with good times, but often have the tendency to leave their environmental impact out of the equation. Lucky for you, we have two great festivals on the horizon in Nashville, both with a major emphasis on sustainable practices: Nashville Earth Day Festival (April 18th) and Lightning 100’s Live On The Green (August 20th, 27th, September 3rd & 10-12th). Keep these five factors in mind when choosing which festivals to fall in love with!
1. Waste Management (Reduce, Recycle, and Compost)
Festivals are infamous for creating a considerable amount of stress on their surroundings… and the environment at large. If there’s one thing a festival is really good at, it’s creating waste. Individuals bring in disposable goods, create trash, then leave it on site, leaving you with that “not so fresh” feeling while there. There are three fundamental ways a festival can combat these problems: reducing, recycling, and composting (not the traditional 3 Rs, but close enough). Reducing is the easiest way to manage waste on site at a festival, but it starts long before the event kicks off. Research and planning are key factors in finding alternatives that would eliminate unnecessary waste from the festival infrastructure. Some good examples of this are: eliminating plastic, providing reusable water bottles, prohibiting superfluous paper advertisements, and setting concrete goals for waste reduction.
Recycling of plastics, cans, and paper are a must-have for any self-respecting outdoor festival. Did you know that in 2014 Lightning 100’s Live On The Green diverted over 12,660 pounds of trash from the landfill– a pretty significant number for a six day festival! Any eco-friendly festival will have multiple clearly marked recycling stations for commingled or separated recyclables. Put the plastic bottle in the recycling can, people! You can set an example by picking up recyclables off the ground and putting them in their proper place. You’ll be amazed how many people follow suit.
Composting is the above-and-beyond waste management strategy for your friendly neighborhood festival. Re-purposing organic matter, specifically food waste and compostable food containers, is a great way to give back to nature. Give it a try at home too. Check out our past blog about using compost in your home garden!
2. Ride Sharing and Alternative Transportation
The simple truth is that festivals attract large amounts of people, and these people cause parking congestion. When an individual festival-goer drives separately in their own vehicle, it seems harmless. Multiply that by 10,000 and you have an issue! Carbon emissions, oh boy…. carbon emissions everywhere! Many Earth-friendly festivals have recognized this malady, and have put measures forth to encourage alternative forms of transportation. Partnering with public transportation (like Metro MTA buses), encouraging carpooling, and offering free bike valet are all features you’ll find at both Nashville Earth Day Festival and Lightning 100’s Live On The Green!
3. Sustainable Energy Use
Sustainable energy is the ultimate buzz word with ecologically-minded individuals, and for good reason! Sustainable energies could very well be the key to unlocking a cleaner and healthier environmental future. Festivals consume massive amounts of energy through stage sound equipment, lighting, projectors, and food truck generators! When a festival organizer chooses to use sustainable energy, the benefits are insurmountable. You might think that only festival giants such as Coachella or Bonnaroo, which implemented solar panels into their electric grid in 2013, are capable of such technological feats. But they’re not! Since its start in 2009, Lightning 100’s Live On The Green has made extensive use of energy-efficient LEDs for stage lighting, which limits energy consumption to less than 30% of an event of comparable size and scope! More and more festivals are incorporating sustainable energy sources into their grids, proving that it doesn’t just cut energy consumption; it cuts costs!
4. Eco Vendors
Implementing standards of efficiency for their food, beverage, and merchandise vendors is another simple but effective way to make your festival experience more Earth-friendly! Food trucks and beer vendors are some of the biggest targets for improvement. Donating used cooking oil for biodiesel, eliminating plastic disposables (and replacing with compostables or finger-foods only), hiring local vendor workers, and using locally-sourced ingredients or products are all efficiency standards that help make the festival as a whole more green.
Another great trend taking root at many festivals is free communal drinking water, so participants can refill their own reusable bottles. This is a great way to cut down on plastic, cut down on trash/recycling costs, and is also a wonderful opportunity for vendor branding (by handing out or selling logo’d bottles)! Earth-friendly festivals will also attract sustainability-conscious sponsors, like Bridgestone Americas, and feature local businesses and organizations that contribute to the community’s environmental awareness efforts, like Nashville’s own Walk/Bike Nashville, Clean Air Partnership, Cumberland River Compact, Hands On Nashville, Nashville B-cycle, and more!
5. Proactive Audience Mentality
However, there is only so much a festival can do by itself. All the infrastructure can be put in place, but in the end the audience makes the biggest difference. Lightning 100’s Live On The Green and Nashville Earth Day Festival both make stage announcements encouraging festival-goers to recycle, but it’s up to YOU to decide to listen. Fortunately, the proactive “leave it better than when you came” mentality is taking root, especially in Nashville, and many festival-goers are supporting the cause.
Remember, festivals absorb the costs of cleaning up, and have to pass those costs onto you, the participants, by raising ticket prices or cutting back on entertainment features. When you help with the clean-up efforts throughout the festival, you help reduce the overall cost and improve the quality of the festival for next year! So, the next time you go to a festival, be a part of the solution, especially if the festival is FREE, like Nashville Earth Day Festival and Lightning 100’s Live On The Green! If one of your favorite festivals could use improvements in their Earth-friendliness, send a friendly comment to the festival organizers or interact with them on social media to let them know it’s a change you’d like to see!
During the spring and summer, Nashville is blooming with community service opportunities. The enthusiasm and pride that our city takes in improving one another’s quality of life is without a doubt one of the reasons we became the “It City.” The big question is, how do you choose which service projects to commit your time to? Team Green Adventures is no stranger to the world of Nashville non-profits. We work closely with nearly every non-profit that puts an emphasis on improving our environment, feeding the hungry, and building lifetime skills for both volunteers and beneficiaries. This week’s blog spotlights some of our favorite non-profits and community projects we’ll team up on throughout the year!
Beer has been a fan favorite of the human race ever since ancient Egyptians started brewing ale thousands of years ago. It’s great after a long day at work, when out on the town, or even paired with a nice meal. Enjoying an ice cold brew is one of the great pleasures of life, and is a part of the American tradition. In fact, the average American consumes over 20 gallons of the good stuff every year! If you’re as much of a beer lover as the average American then there are steps that you can take to make your Friday night not only fun, but eco-friendly too.
Glass or Aluminum? The aluminum beer can isn’t only for cheap brews anymore. The craft beer renaissance has created a gamut of canned choices that blow larger commercial beers out of the water. In fact, one of the simplest ways to go green when drinking beer is to lose the glass bottle and pick up a can. The easy-to-ship design and reduced weight of an aluminum can makes the distribution process more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. Not only that, but the lower cost and easier recycling process solidifies the aluminum can’s rank as top dog over glass.
Growlers If you want to up your green game from aluminum cans, then invest in a growler. Conveniently sold in sizes ranging from 32 oz. to a whopping 2 liter, the growler has become the canvas grocery bag of craft beers. The ability to reuse one of these bad boys can cut down on the fuel and pollution expended on the constant process of canning and bottling. This growing trend is becoming popular across the U.S., and is popping up right in our own backyard. Craft Brewed Nashville, Hops and Crafts, The Filling Station, Corsair Taproom and Frugal MacDoogal are all excellent spots to fill up a growler and take the taste of draft beer home with you.
Drafts Nothing is quite like the fresh taste of a draft right out of the tap. If you’re like me and love going to a pub and having a pint then you are in luck, because Mother Earth loves it too! One of the most eco-friendly ways to imbibe your favorite libation is to get it right from the keg. If you’re feeling extra green you could even visit your own neighborhood bar, where everybody knows your name. Since you’re in the neighborhood, why not cut down on your transportation emissions by taking a leisurely walk there and back as well!
WHO’S YOUR BREWMASTER?
Home, Sweet Foam If you want complete control in maximizing your eco-friendly beer endeavors, nothing gives you more say in what you’re drinking than making it yourself! Buying a home brewing kit, not only allows you to choose what you’re brewing, but allows you to take all the eco-friendly steps that you wish your favorite beer did. It gives you the freedom to compost, grow your own hops, grains, and spices, conserve water, and eliminate transportation costs. Plus as soon as you’ve invested in your kit once, you can reuse it as many times as you like, and drink efficiently for the foreseeable future.
Think Globally, Drink Locally Drinking local not only gives you a taste of the Nashville flavor, but also helps the environment. By drinking locally-brewed beers you can severely reduce the size of the carbon footprint that is associated with the shipping and distribution of beer all across the planet. Grabbing a local brew also increases your chances of ingesting fresher ingredients from nearby sources. Don’t forget that drinking locally also helps the already vibrant brewing culture of Nashville!
Drink Organic Organic beer? Really? Yes, really – your body and the environment will thank you in the long run. Hops, the crown jewel of beer, can be difficult to grow organically on a large scale because of it’s high susceptibility to insects and other pests. However, drinking organic beer guarantees that you, and the environment, are coming into less contact with insecticides and other industrial chemicals on a day-to-day basis. Finally, an organic drink that doesn’t have kale in it!
In fact, there are a few Nashville breweries that are dedicated to the idea that green beer isn’t only for St. Patrick’s Day:
Tennessee Brew Works This fine establishment boasts a brew system that is uniquely designed to offer a higher level of efficiency and automation than is typical for a brewery of its size. These savings equate to a more efficient use of energy and raw materials. In fact, this brew system can use up to 50% less water, 20% less raw materials, and 20% less energy than a traditional brew system.
Little Harpeth Brewing Little Harpeth Brewing is relentless in its efforts to become as green as possible. When starting the company, Little Harpeth built their offices from reclaimed and reused materials, and recycled anything that went unused. They are also focused on energy efficiency through use of horizontal bright tanks, which cut down on the processing time of their brews and reduces energy consumption during the brewing process. Little Harpeth has also partnered with us on our Harpeth River cleanup events each of the last two summers, doing their part to support volunteerism and healthy waterways in Middle Tennessee! Check out this Q&A session we had with Michael Kwas, Co-Founder and Visionary of Little Harpeth Brewing:
How exactly do the horizontal bright tanks help the efficiency of the brewing system? Essentially, it reduces energy consumption. The bright tanks are the last stage in the process known as conditioning. Horizontal tanks allow a three foot drop for yeast, compared to the ten foot or higher drop for vertical tanks. These horizontal tanks come from the German brewing tradition and generally make the process shorter and more energy efficient. Also, Little Harpeth’s boiling process is low energy, which reduces the level of natural gas consumption.
What drove LHB to make eco-friendliness and sustainability a part of your business objectives? The Little Harpeth team is very into conservation. Their down-to-earth business mentality assists the brewery with green efficiency, and helps keep the moths out of their wallets. Michael Kwas is a hardworking bootstrapper, with a home learned skill for using only what he needs, and believes that “being green is a combination of moral obligation and efficiency.”
Does LHB have any plans for incorporating any green measures in the future? Chicken Scratch Pilsner, currently their most popular beer, uses corn in the brewing process. Instead of buying cheap bulk ingredients, Little Harpeth opted to buy from a local miller in Dixon, who supplies them with non-GMO white corn sourced from organic farms. The local miller is using the funds from corn sale to invest in fixing a water wheel to power eco-friendly milling stones. The brewery plans on using this resource in the future for their Chicken Scratch Pilsner. Little Harpeth is planning on eventually acquiring a biodiesel delivery vehicle when funding comes together. They are also currently utilizing solar heating to naturally raise the temperature of water. The black piping that holds the water outside draws heat from the sun and helps cut down on energy used to bring water to a boil during the brewing process.
Are there any organizations that Little Harpeth is especially active in? Michael donates time and beer to support Harpeth River Watershed Association, a local non-profit that helps look after the health and cleanliness of the Harpeth River. Little Harpeth Brewing donates time and resources to help promote the organization’s events, and they help with several of their river cleanups as well.
OTHER ECO-FRIENDLY BREWS
Traveler Beer Co. Travel Beer Company is based in Burlington, VT. and does it’s part to better the environment by being the official beer sponsor of Team Green Adventures all year this year! We’re partnering with Traveler Beer Co. to bring you eco-related volunteer events, from tree plantings to community garden days, throughout 2015. Any beer that helps support good causes is worth the try. In fact, sipping on a delicious shandy sounds like the perfect way to unwind after a long day of volunteering!
Sierra Nevada Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is lauded for its sustainable brewing practices, and in 2010 the brewery was named “Green Business of the Year” by the EPA. Sierra Nevada puts its money where its mouth is, and has invested in over 10,000 solar cell arrays on the brewery’s rooftop and parking lot.These solar cells power all of the daily operations at the brewery with enough left over to enable an electric vehicle charging station for employees and visitors.
New Belgium New Belgium Brewing maintains a firm focus on operational sustainability and is currently aiming towards being a one hundred percent wind-powered operation. Also, about 10% of the brewery’s electric power comes from methane gas collected from an on-site water treatment plant in lieu of being released into the atmosphere.
Stone Brewery Stone Brewery has covered its facility’s facade with 1500 solar panels and has cut its energy bills in half and offset an estimated 538,000 pounds of carbon emissions. That’s the equivalent of planting 204 acres of trees! Stone Brewery also uses bio-diesel delivery trucks to distribute its beer and branded products around the west coast.
Next time you get a hankering for suds, remember these green tips, and use this article as an excuse to go out and have a drink!