5 Ways to Live Sustainably in Knoxville

Written By

Emilie Stooksbury

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Sustainable in the Scruffy City

If you’re anything like us, you’ve spent far too much time binging documentaries. We’ve had two hour deep dives on everything from dairy and sugar to aliens and sustainability. However, writing about aliens feels like a bit of a leap for this site (it’s New2Knox, not New2Earth, after all), so we figured we’d play it safe & share all things sustainable-living in Knoxville instead 😉 If you’ve watched a few documentaries yourself, or you’re simply feeling motivated to live a more waste-free lifestyle, here are 5 ways to live sustainably in the Scruffy City!

1.) Waste Less & Mackle-More

That was a less-than-clever way to say that Knoxville is stuffed with awesome thrift shops! From furniture to clothing to whozits and whatzits galore, there’s no need to buy it new. And the hunt can be pretty fun! You can always stick to the classics like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, but definitely don’t stop there. Pop Weasel, Retrospect, Ladies of Charity, and French Fried Vintage are some (of many) fun places to thrift in North Knoxville. In Bearden, check out spots like Nostalgia and Four Seasons. Head to downtown Clinton for essentially an entire street of antique shops. Did you know there’s even a Netflix show about thrifting in East Tennessee? (Or that we lowkey binged said show in about two days?🙃) Basically, this town was made for thrifting. Go forth, you sustainable babe, you.

2.) That Refill Life

The moment we heard about KnoxFill, we were obsessed. KnoxFill provides refills on sustainably-made (and legitimately good) cleaning products, shampoo, laundry detergent, spices, teas, you name it. They work with super intentional suppliers (shout out to Knox Girl Soap) and have a whole brick & mortar shop for you to peruse. Don’t want to make the trek to South Knoxville? THAT’S COOL BECAUSE they also have pick-up locations all over town (conveniently give you an excuse to hang out at Jack’s or CommonPlace. No judgement here 😉) All that and she whips out fun and educational reels on the ‘gram?! Sign us up.

FREE Craft Coffee Tasting at Five & Hoek EVERY First Friday from 1-2 PM!

Taste coffees from around the world with Five & Hoek owner, Tyler, every first Friday of the month from 1-2 pm. Learn what you like about certain coffees, how coffees are selected & how quality is maintained from roast to roast & cup to cup.

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3.) Ride On, Cowboy

There are actually a handful of ways to reduce the carbon footprint your car is leaving around here! First, Knoxville is riddled with connecting greenways and sidewalks. These can literally get you from one side of the city to the other on your bike (or a nice, inconveniently long walk). Outdoor Knoxville is a great resource for navigating these! You can even get a recycled and restored bike from Two Bikes to feel two times better about yourself.

We alsoooo recommend finding one of those lil “Knox Loves Bikes” guides around town! You can pick them up all over town (Two Bikes, Five & Hoek Coffee, Alliance Brewing Co, and Knox Brew Hub to name just a few spots) and they list aaaaall the local businesses who will give you a discount just for showing up on your bike!

If sustainable living in Knoxville was your New Year’s resolution but exercising was decidedly not, there’s still hope. Knoxville recently got a handful of new all-electric city buses! Or if you’re around downtown, we’re also big fans of the electric scooters. (PRO-TIP: Bike laws apply to the scooters… please don’t injure yourself by thinking it’s a free for all situation 😬💛)

4.) I Love Eat, er, Earth

We all need to eat – so why not do so sustainably? In peak season, there are various farmers markets all over Knoxville where you can shop local and support people right in your community. Our favorite market is the one on Saturdays in Market Square because supporting your community and shopping sustainably is even better after enjoying a mimosa downtown! 😉

Between markets, you can hit up spots like Three Rivers Co-Op in North Knoxville (also great for a quick lunch), Farm South in South Knoxville, or take advantage of things like Market Wagon (they basically can bring the farmers market to your doorstep).

5.) Do the Most & Compost

Remember when everyone was saying, “There’s an app for that”? Well, there’s also a local Knox biz for that 😉 If you’re new to the world of composting, the Green Heron is the local business you need. They’ll set you up with what you need to get started, personally pick up your compost throughout the year, and then distribute it straight to area farms. Boom. [Com]posted. Besides that, the City of Knoxville actually has food scraps drop-off sites around town so you can easily compost your food without dealing with, y’know, composting your food. You can learn more about that right here!

We hope this sets you up for a scruffily sustainable year! What are YOUR tips & tricks for living sustainably in Knoxville? Shoot us a DM so we can learn moooore! PS. Thank you to Michaela Barnett from KnoxFill for all her help on this article when it was originally published!

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