#FindYourLab with Victoria LaTeano

Urban Green Lab knows a little change goes a long way when it comes to living sustainably. To help Nashville make that little change, we’re helping everyone in the community find their lab.

Being able to go for a hike or a camping trip every now and then reminds me of what I’m working to protect.

Victoria LaTeano
The Stray

Victoria, where is your lab?

My lab is at home. Over the past year, I’ve started paying more attention to my personal impact during my day to day activities. I’ve been working to decrease my own footprint by avoiding plastic when grocery shopping, using shampoo bars, refillable cleaning products, and composting. I’ve also been making an effort to read and educate myself on climate change and what I can do to curb it. The more I can understand the issues myself, the better I can help others who want to change their lifestyles too!

My lab is beginning at my new job as well. I’ve been hired on to help open a Music and Arts Cafe, and am working to bring sustainable practices, like composting, into the business plan. Individual responsibility is important, but corporate responsibility is arguably more so.

What has been your biggest challenge or question?

Am I doing enough?

This question is easy to get wrapped up in, and can quickly make all efforts seem futile. Something that I’ve had to learn is that there is no direct, one-step route to living a sustainable lifestyle. It’s more realistically a bunch of small steps, taken one at a time. I’m much more productive because now it’s a constant progression through a bunch of small goals, and each one builds off of the last.

How did you get interested in sustainable living? 

I grew up hiking and have always enjoyed being immersed in nature so sustainability has always been something I’ve thought about, but with little understanding it seemed too overwhelming and unachievable to ever get started. It wasn’t until an Environmental Science class I took in college that I began to look at it more seriously, and then my internship with Urban Green Lab that I was able to understand and implement sustainable practices in manageable pieces.

What keeps you motivated to make sustainable changes?

Continuously reading and learning about the issues, and also the solutions, that other people are focusing on has been really motivating. Another thing is seeing youth organizations like the Sunrise Movement and Fridays for Future, and their determination for change. 

I always find that I’m re-inspired whenever I’m out in nature too. Being able to go for a hike or a camping trip every now and then reminds me of what I’m working to protect.

Where is your favorite local spot to get in touch with nature?

Percy/Edwin Warner is my go-to place in Nashville to take a hike or sit by some water. They have a variety of trails, short and long, with some paved and unpaved, so it’s the perfect place for all preferences and time constraints. 

If I have a long weekend, I really enjoy backcountry trips to Red River Gorge in Kentucky or out to the Smokies.

What sustainability-related organization do you wish more people knew about and why?

Green Dreamer podcast has been my go-to this past year. Host, Kamea Chayne, interviews experts in every realm of sustainability and environmentalism. It’s great at showing diversity and a variety of perspectives within the environmental movement.

What is your sustainability band name?

Panic! at the Recycling Plant

What is your sustainable vision for the city of Nashville?

My sustainable vision for Nashville is better sidewalks, more green space, and an updated bus system. I would like to see policymakers who acknowledge and call attention to the climate crisis and place importance on the well-being and safety of all of their constituents. Restaurants and bars are huge, so a larger acceptance and implementation of sustainable practices within that industry would make a large impact as well.

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