NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - There’s been a lot of bad news lately when it comes to recycling in Nashville. Instead of adding programs, the city keeps taking them away.

Local experts are now arguing recycling is not the key to sustainability and they said there are other things people should be doing instead.

Nashville ditched its downtown glass recycling program. The city stopped accepting plastic food containers and recently leaders opted not to offer bi-monthly pickup.

“Here in Nashville, the knee jerk reaction is to think, ‘Oh, we need to recycle that material,’ but I’d like us to all be thinking more upstream,” said Todd Lawrence, who runs Urban Green Lab, a nonprofit that’s working to teach everyone from young students to big businesses to reduce and reuse first.

“So, for example, this plastic water bottle, we could reuse this plastic water bottle several times, but it’s even better to reduce how much of these we use in the first place,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence said it all starts at the store.

“When you go to the grocery store, there are 40,000 items to choose from. You’re essentially buying your trash for the week. So, how can we make better choices about the materials we use to buy,” said Lawrence.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper just created a sustainability council. They’re creating a new climate action plan and pledged to reduce the city’s carbon emissions in the future.

However, experts said it’s the individuals who need to act.

“We don’t have to wait for the government to come in and recycle our material. We don’t have to wait for Waste Management and other groups. We can make the difference right now,” said Lawrence. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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