City Guide: Nashville

Zero Waste City Guide: Nashville

This city guide comes from Bailey Basham, who is navigating zero waste and post-grad life in Nashville, the city she calls home. If I didn't already want to plan a road trip down there (spoiler alert: I did already want to), I sure would now. Here's Bailey on the places she recommends:


-Live music: It seems like there is always some sort of live music going on in Nashville. Whether you're looking for some of the expected country music or for something a little different, there is usually a bit of something for everyone! My favorite venue is Exit/In; it’s a relatively small venue, so if you get there early, chances are you can get a spot right in front of the stage. And if you go to Exit/In for a show, check out Café Coco afterwards. It’s super close by - within walking distance - and is open 24/7, which is perfect for those late-night, post-show fried food cravings. 

-Oz Arts Nashville: In March, I saw a women’s panel/installation celebrating International Women’s Day at this local contemporary arts center; you'll love this spot if you’re into art and are looking for something a little smaller than the Frist.

-McKay’s: One of my favorite places to shop in Nashville, McKay’s Used Books & CDs is an enormous book-and-music-lover’s paradise. There are rows upon rows of bookshelves stacked high with secondhand books. Plus, they have a floor entirely dedicated to CDs and vinyl. What’s not to love? 

-Radnor Lake State Park: Go for a hike or spend an afternoon swinging in a hammock at the park. Radnor Lake also has a schedule of events on their website - things like wildflower walks, moonlit hikes, canoe floats, and live animal shows.

-Music City Thrift: Hands down, my favorite thrift store around my neck of the woods. They do student discounts (30% off!) on Wednesdays, and they usually have color tag sales every other day of the week.


-Baja Burrito: Baja serves delicious burritos, tacos, and salads with fresh, locally sourced ingredients - but be sure to go prepared. They wrap burritos in foil, which isn’t too bad because foil can be recycled. Their to-go boxes are plastic, so order “for here!” They also have small plastic bowls for salsa and Styrofoam bowls for queso, just so you know. (Vegan/vegetarian options).

-The Pharmacy Burger and Beer Garden: The Pharmacy uses Tennessee-raised beef for their burgers and pure cane sugar in the sodas; plus, they make all their own condiments. They use paper cups for water, so either bring your own water bottle, or plan to order a homemade soda (served in a real glass) or a canned drink that can be recycled. (Vegetarian options). 

-Istanbul Restaurant: Istanbul is a true hole-in-the-wall, but the food is amazing, and the people are so, so kind. Plus, when you dine in (and refuse a straw!), you make no trash! If you are into Turkish food or are open to trying new things, put Istanbul on your list. If you do go, be sure to try the Tarhana yogurt soup. To an unadventurous eater like me, just the sound of that is scary, but trust me: it. is. amazing. (Vegan/vegetarian options). 

-The Flipside: A low-waste joint! Their napkins, plates, and utensils are all reusable. I am not sure about their to-go boxes because I've never needed one - the food is so good! (Vegetarian options).

-Jeni’s Ice Cream: Jeni’s serves my all time favorite ice cream - their dark chocolate is so, so decadent. Their spoons are plastic (but their tasting spoons aren’t, so no worries about sampling!), so make sure to bring your own. But if you get a cone, you don’t have to worry about any waste at all! Bonus: Jeni's also has locations in other states, too!

-Crema Coffee: Crema is a zero waste coffee shop in Nashville! They go beyond just offering reusable coffee mugs - you can read about their full zero waste initiative here. I’d recommend taking your own to-go cup (unless you plan to stay for a while to drink your bev) and your own straw. Ps: I recommend the Iced Cuban coffee.

-Taco Week: August 21 through 27, Nashville Scene, a local magazine, is sponsoring a taco week—that means you can get $2 tacos at participating restaurants for the whole week. What's better than that?!


-Farmers' markets: There are several different farmers markets to choose from - East Nashville Farmer’s MarketWest Nashville Farmer’s Market, 12 South Farmer’s Market, and the Nashville Farmer’s Market  - for fresh, local produce, meats, and baked goods. Sometimes, you might even spot a cute little flower truck around! 

-Zero waste grocery shopping: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and The Turnip Truck are grocery options that offer bulk sections for your perusal. And, at White's Mercantile, you can purchase refillable, nontoxic soaps and household cleaners made by Common Good and Co.

-Compost: Compost Nashville offers a weekly food scrap pickup service - they provide the bucket, you fill it with kitchen castoffs, and they'll pick it back up! They'll give you back the compost if you want it for your garden, or will donate it to local gardens and urban farms if you don't.

Thanks so much for sharing, Bailey! If you'd like to see more city guides, there are more right here. Photo of Crema via