What does a sustainable trip to Nashville look like?
While I had originally thought that Nashville wouldn’t really be my kind of city — I’m not a fan of country music, crazy bars, or traditional Southern food — there really was something for everyone to enjoy in Music City. And this included plenty of eco-friendly things to do, eat and see.
I had an amazing time during my short trip to Nashville, so I wanted to pull together guide with a few conscious things to do in the city so that you can enjoy your time there as much as I did!
The city is an especially fantastic place to visit if you live in Midwest or South regions of the United States, because it’s easier to skip the carbon-intensive plane ride and drive an efficient car or (even better) take a train instead!
Where to Stay: Mason Lofts
If you’re looking for a sustainable stay in Nashville, Mason Lofts should be at the top of your list. Mason Lofts is an eco-friendly and low waste ‘aparthotel’ (apartment + hotel), which basically means they blend the best of both worlds!
I’m always a fan of smaller boutique hotels that offer a more personalized experience and I also like staying in apartments through sharing sites because of the affordability, space, and additional conveniences like a kitchen.
So, a boutique apartment hotel like Mason Lofts is basically all of this in one: you get the service of a boutique hotel plus plenty of space to cook, dine, relax, and even do your laundry.
And as a Proud-certified property with 3 ADA-friendly units (which feature stair-free access, roll-in showers, handicap garage spots, and accessible beds), Mason Lofts is also an inclusive accommodation.
As you’ve probably experienced, eating out every meal when traveling not only gets expensive, but can lead to a whole lot of waste with single-use packaging if you’re eating and drinking on the go. So eating some meals at your accommodation can reduce waste as well as your travel expenses.
But Mason Lofts doesn’t have just any kitchen — they have a low-waste, fully equipped kitchen stocked with all reusable dishware, as well as refillable amenities purchased in bulk such as coffee, sugar, spices and oil + vinegar.
The coffee in the rooms is definitely a highlight as it is freshly ground from the local Three Brothers coffee shop! The team at Three Brothers did some tests to find the perfect coffee for a Keurig machine, so guests at Mason Lofts can have a delicious customized coffee to use in the reusable K-cups that are provided in the kitchens.
And if you need to go shopping for some food, Mason Lofts also provides reusable shopping bags so you can avoid using plastic bags, even if you don’t remember to pack your own reusables!
Plus, you can toss food scraps, coffee grounds, tea, and compostable products in the compost bin at your aparthotel room! Mason Lofts has partnered with Compost Nashville, which is a service that can compost all types of food scraps, even including meat and cheese.
Perhaps the coolest highlight about Mason Lofts’ kitchen though is that they have a pollinator-friendly edible garden that guests can go outside to pick from and cook with! (And they let a part of the lot remain ‘wild’ so that wildlife can have a safe space.)
Compostable Products + Composting:
All too often, I’ve seen restaurants, hotels, and other locations offer compostable products… with no where to actually compost those items.
Mason Lofts, though, not only offers compostable paper products (like tissues) but actually has a compost where you can discard them.
Through their compost, as well as recycling efforts, Mason Lofts is able to divert over 90% of ‘waste’ from the landfill!
In addition to refillable bulk amenities in the kitchen, you’ll find refillable shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion in the bathroom sourced from closed-loop brands.
Even the toilet paper at Mason Lofts is low waste. They source from Who Gives a Crap, which is a brand making their toilet paper out of recycled paper.
Another great part about supporting smaller boutique hotels is that they are often very intentional about supporting the local community.
Mason Lofts offers quality products as well as optional curated add-on packages with items sourced from local businesses such as Village Bakery + Provisions and Three Brothers Coffee.
The largest environmental impact of traveling is the transportation. So in addition to prioritizing lower impact travel to Nashville, there are also ways to choose more eco-conscious transportation while you’re here.
Mason Lofts makes eco-friendly transit around Nashville a whole lot easier through their partnership with Earth Rides.
You can get discounted rates on bike rentals for exploring the nearby area. And for longer distances, Mason Lofts has partnered with Earth Rides which offers a Tesla black car service, so you can get around the city 100% electric.
While Mason Lofts is located in a quieter part of the city in the West End neighborhood, the aparthotel is just a 10 minute drive from the downtown area.
Where to Shop: Ethical Fashion Stores
Going to ABLE was undeniably my number one stop on our whole trip! We got to not only see the ABLE retail store, but we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the whole ABLE operations, including their jewelry workshop. The tour is open to the public and is $40 per ticket. The ticket price actually includes a free piece of personalized jewelry which is worth more than $40, so it’s totally worth it.
Here’s a glimpse at the beautiful store and their jewelry production process:
I’ve been a fan of Nisolo for years, so I was really looking forward to seeing their flagship store in Nashville. I even wore my trusty Nisolo Serena Sandals for the occasion. Unfortunately, the store was closed when we got there because we went on a holiday weekend, but at least I got to snap a pic in front of the store!
BATCH (in the Nashville Farmer’s Market)
This stop was actually a bit of a surprise. We visited the Nashville Farmer’s Market and happened upon the “Market House” area with food, drinks, treats, and shopping.
One of the stores I enjoyed visiting in the Market House was Batch, a shop with products made locally or from Nashville-based brands. I spotted bags and jewelry from ethical fashion label ABLE there, as well as beauty products from Thistle Farms, a brand with natural home and beauty products made by women survivors.
Other Things to Do
This recording studio tour was my second favorite activity we did in Nashville (after the ABLE tour)! We got a rare glimpse into the process behind making a new record right in the heart of Music Row in Nashville.
And what was unique about the tour we went on was that we didn’t just get to watch what was happening, but we felt like we were really part of the process. We sat inside the glass doors of the recording studio, got to be inside the control room, and ask the artist and musicians questions directly.
We were only here briefly, but it’s a beautiful park to relax and get a little dose of green in the city!
Farm-to-Table and Veg-Friendly Restaurants
Adele’s is a farm-to-fork restaurant with fresh dishes made using seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients.
Their menu shifts based upon availability of ingredients, but I had a salad with kale, pecorino, anchovy dressing, breadcrumbs and shared a side of JW potatoes with my parents. Both were delicious!
I had heard fantastic things about Jeni’s Ice Cream and wanted to visit for a while, so I was excited to happen across a Jeni’s location in the Nashville Farmer’s Market!
Jeni’s has a few vegan options, including the Texas Sheet Cake flavor that I tried made with coconut ice cream and chocolate cake crumbles. (And yes, it was just as amazing as it sounds!)
Acme Feed & Seed (Vegetarian Options)
First, I have to preface this by saying, Acme Feed & Seed wouldn’t be the top place I’d recommend for folks passionate about sustainability. We went here because we heard great things and seen fantastic reviews of Acme, plus I spotted quite a few vegetarian options on the menu.
And the food was great! However, what I was not expecting, was that the utensils and cups were single-use (who knew I had to bring around my own reusable cup and utensils to a sit-down restaurant!!). It was also unbelievably crowded and loud when we went—which I suppose is to be expected given the restaurant’s location on the busiest, craziest street in Nashville!
Another spot we found because of its great reviews and vegetarian options, Merchants was a nice conveniently located spot for lunch or dinner. My black bean veggie burger wasn’t fantastic, but the place was nice and the service was friendly.
Other Recommended Spots That We Didn’t Get to:
The Wild Cow – vegan and vegetarian restaurant (with some gluten-free options)
The Café at Thistle Farms – fresh food, coffee, and tea made with locally-sourced ingredients. Thistle Farms is a social enterprise that employs women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.
If you’re looking for some more conscious things to do, spots to eat or drink, and places to stay, I recommend also checking out the EcoCult’s Eco-Friendly Nashville Guide and Terumah’s Nashville Guide.
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