By Brianna Williams
Happy Earth Day, Chattanooga. 🌎 We’ve come a long way since 1969, when we were dubbed the “dirtiest city in America” by broadcaster Walter Cronkite, huh?
Now, Chattanooga boasts electric buses, the world’s first aviation terminal to get its LEED Platinum certification, a recent partnership between EPB + the city to supply greener and more sustainable energy to our local emergency management operations, and many more green initiatives.
In honor of Earth Day and our city’s growth, we’re highlighting 12 local sustainable organizations committed to making Chattanooga even greener. 🌱
Chattanooga’s Audubon Society works to educate visitors + promote our responsibility to preserve and protect the environment. The society serves as a steward for 4 nature sanctuaries — the Elise Chapin Sanctuary, Maclellan Island, David Gray Sanctuary, and Mackey Branch Wetlands.
TryThis: Take advantage of the organization’s programs, like upcoming Aviation Discovery Days or Wildflower and Medical Plant walks.
Green Spaces is a local nonprofit that works to advance Chattanooga’s sustainability in living, working, and building through education + training programs, advocacy campaigns, and resources.
TryThis: Green Spaces’ Eco Field Day — in honor of Earth Day — kicked off on April 15 and features a month-long virtual challenge with a variety of activities surrounding topics like climate activism, energy efficiency, waste reduction + more.
Green Steps is a locally-based organization with a mission to “educate, encourage, and enable citizens to eradicate litter in urban, rural, and scenic areas across Tennessee.” The organization currently has over 50 litter stations across Chattanooga that include biodegradable dog waste + 5-gallon litter bags for people to use.
TryThis: Take part in Green Steps’ Earth Week Litter Challenge by picking up trash, taking a photo, and tagging @greenstepschatt with the hashtag #earthdaychatt for a chance to win a raffle prize.
The Land Trust for Tennessee has headquarters in both Chattanooga + Nashville. The organization works to conserve land in the state that is important to Tennneseans — from family farms to public parks + wildlife habitats. The trust also provides information about how individuals can protect or donate their land
The Lookout Mountain Conservancy has a mission to protect + preserve Lookout Mountain through conservation, advocacy, recreation, and education. You can take part by checking out the voluntary land conservation options or assisting in trails and greenway development or conservation planning.=
My Tennessee is a program of WaterWays and was created in partnership with the City of Chattanooga + Hamilton County to recognize and showcase home and business owners in Chattanooga that use sustainable and creek-friendly practices.
NewTerra provides simple compost solutions for businesses, organizations, events, and homes in the Chattanooga area. As a resident, you can sign up to receive a compost bucket that you’ll fill up with compostable waste + drop off at a residual once a week.
Bonus: For Earth Day, new members can start composting for $3 a month if they use the coupon code EARTHDAY21 on NewTerra’s signup page. NewTerra will also be set up today at Daily Ration, Southern Squeeze, and Pruett’s Market to promote composting.
Reflection Riding seeks to connect Chattanoogans with nature through its many outdoor trails, educational programs, and a vast plant + animal life. Locals can visit the arboretum, meet native animals, like red wolves, and rent a canoe or hike on the property.
Southeast Conservation Corps is headquartered here in Chattanooga but operates its conservation service programs all over the southeast. The organization features several different programs, from a variety of youth + adult conservation corps to veterans fire corps, all of which vary in length and focus.
The Tennessee River Gorge Trust is focused on preserving “a healthy Tennessee River Gorge.” Since the trust’s foundation in 1981, it has protected over 17,000 acres of the gorge. You can hike some of the gorge’s land at Pot Point, Ritchie Hollow, and Stringer’s Ridge.
While the Conservation Kid himself isn’t necessarily an organization, 11-year-old Cash Daniels is certainly up there with the best of our local sustainable orgs. In 2019, Daniels wrote a children’s book inspiring other kids to save the planet, and he currently owns his own business The Cleanup Kids that hosts cleanups and advocates for protecting nature.
The Tennessee Aquarium’s Conservation Institute works to preserve and aid local water systems through conservation planning (like working on the Southeastern Freshwater Biodiversity Conservation Strategy), native animal protection, and education + outreach.
Bonus: Check out the aquarium’s newest exhibits in partnership with Nobody Trashes Tennessee that showcase how microplastics + litter negatively impact our water systems.