There’s no denying that Brunswick County is beautiful. From its charming coastal towns to its rolling golf greens, and from the pristine beaches to the natural parks and preservations, it’s hard not to be attracted by the surrounding beauty. What many residents may not realize, however, is that there is a driving force hard at work to keep the County looking so good.
Formed in 1990, Keep Brunswick County Beautiful is a local affiliate of the national nonprofit public education organization Keep America Beautiful. Keep Brunswick Beautiful (KBCB)’s mission is to engage individuals across the county to take a greater responsibility for improving their environment.
“Our main goal is just to educate the residents and visitors to take a greater responsibility for improving the environments that we live in. That can come from anything from recycling to preventing litter, and it all boils down to education. We want to educate our residents,” says Bozeman.
With the help of 12 board members and under Bozeman’s leadership, Keep Brunswick County Beautiful recently received recognition at the national level. During the Keep America Beautiful 2017 National Conference in Washington, D.C., KBCB received the President’s Circle Award. This marks the eleventh time since 2005 that KBCB has been recognized by the national nonprofit for its exemplary performance in creating a clean, green, and beautiful Brunswick County. Considering the required criteria, this distinction is certainly no easy feat. In order to meet the standards of merit, KBCB conducts an annual Community Appearance Litter Index, creates a cost/benefit analysis, completes annual reports and participates in a variety of Keep America Beautiful programs and grant projects.
Typically performed during the summer months, the Community Appearance Litter Index is, in essence, a windshield assessment of the County’s roadways. 10 roads are chosen from 5 different sections across the County, and then roadside litter is scored on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being extremely littered. In 2016, Brunswick County roads scored a very impressive 1.52. In past years, completion of the assessment has lead residents to get involved in volunteer efforts. For example, in 2015 Benton Road in Bolivia was selected to be part of the Great American Cleanup. With the help of the Brunswick Community College Athletic Department, 180 pounds of trash and 4 large bags of recyclables were collected in about 2 hours.
One of the biggest components of KBCB’s mission comes by way of their public outreach. Board members attend a variety of local events, manning booths filled with brochures and souvenirs in an effort to spread the word about ways the community can help keep Brunswick County clean and green.
“We’re out there, we’re handing out brochures, we’re informing the residents what they can recycle and where, and we’re trying to prevent litter at all costs. We hand out pocket ashtrays, which are pretty popular in the beach areas. Cigarette butts are the number one litter, so, of course, we want to keep them off the beaches and from getting into the waterways. We’re just out there wanting to educate our residents on litter prevention and waste reduction through recycling,” says Bozeman.
Recent events include the NC Oyster Festival, Oak Island’s Earth Day, Leland’s Founders’ Day, Sunset at Sunset, Brunswick County Health Fair, Festival by the Sea, Brunswick County Fall Festival, and the Shallotte Christmas Parade. Without the board members’ dedication and involvement, KBCB’s efforts would be futile. The 12 active board members come from across the County and meet once a month to discuss current and future plans and activities.
“As a Board member of Keep Brunswick County Beautiful, I’m hopefully helping keep our County a cleaner, neater, and more beautiful place to live, work, and vacation,” says KBCB Secretary E. Gifford Stack.
One of KBCB’s newest endeavors is its partnership with Plastic Ocean Project, Inc. and Surfrider Foundation, Cape Fear Chapter, in recognizing “Ocean Friendly Establishments” in Brunswick County. These establishments train wait staff to only give straws upon request. The program aims to reduce straw usage by encouraging restaurants and patrons to “skip the straw,” a simple act that can help the environment in big ways. An average of 500 million straws are used each day, most of which are often disposed of within minutes before heading out to landfills or eventually making their way to the ocean. KBCB recently signed their first Ocean Friendly Establishment agreement with Inlet View Bar & Grill located in Shallotte, and have two other restaurants in the works, Shagger Jacks on Oak Island and Mojo’s on the Harbor on Bald Head Island.
KBCB’s longest active board member and Treasurer John Henderson understands the valuable role the public plays in maintaining the County’s appeal. “There are responsibilities that go along with having freedoms,” says Henderson.
The duty of keeping Brunswick County beautiful is certainly one that is shared by all who live and visit here.
To find out more about Keep Brunswick County Beautiful or about volunteering, contact Micki Bozeman at Micki.firstname.lastname@example.org