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BOLIVIA — Marilyn Graham hopes the county will become a little more sustainable after several training sessions offered by Brunswick Community College this month.
Graham, the coordinator of BCC’s Sustainability thru Innovation and Leadership Center, is hosting four sessions to help leaders in Brunswick County develop methods that might benefit the coastal area in various ways.
Tom Rhodes, the developer and manager of the NC GreenTravel Initiative program with the North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service, spoke during the first session Thursday, Feb. 6, on the college campus. He spoke to the class of 14 people about assisting the tourism industry in Brunswick County by providing no-cost environmental analysis and consultation.
Following Rhodes’ presentation, class members were divided into four groups where they were left to brainstorm ways to make Brunswick County more environmentally friendly.
“This is an effort we’re making to improve the county we live in,” Graham said. “We are holding these sessions to generate ideas in an attempt to improve our quality of life.
“We need to know what your ideas are to make the area more sustainable. Hopefully, then, we can try to implement some of these methods.”
Rhodes said there are many ways for local businesses to become more environmentally friendly, such as by fixing leaks, switching from regular light bulbs to LED bulbs, and turning machines off when they aren’t being used.
If a customer comes to the county and sees businesses truly care about the environment, they will know the businesses care about people, he said.
“It’s free advertising, in a sense,” Rhodes said. “If they see you are an ‘NC GreenTravel’ business, they’ll know you not only are interested in preserving the environment, but there’s a genuine care there for the customers you are serving.”
Rhodes said there are several reasons for local businesses to “green up,” including consumer demand, savings, protection of the environment, corporate social responsibility and the desire to keep business competitive.
Steve Cherry, chairman for Keep Brunswick County Beautiful, said he hopes others on his organization’s board of directors will attend future sustainability workshops and seminars.
“I hope they learn how they can help with the group’s key objectives: anti-litter, beautification, and recycling,” Cherry said. “It’s great to see BCC taking such an active role in Brunswick County … along the road to success.”
Rhodes said while the times are changing, it’s time for local businesses to get on board.
“We want to replace the old with the new. Let’s do the sustainable thing,” he said.
“There are things we have to do here,” Graham added. “There are significant challenges we are facing. We have to work hard to meet the needs of this area and address those challenges.”
The remaining sustainability sessions will be held each Thursday after Feb. 13: sciences, Feb. 20 from 3 to 5 p.m.; and business and industry, Feb. 27 from 6 to 8 p.m., and governmental affairs, March 6 from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information, call Graham at 755-8561.
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.