Cary residents can learn how to live more sustainably through a new Town of Cary program that will kick off this April, coinciding with Earth Day celebrations.
Through the Cary Green Neighborhood Program, residents in four to eight neighborhoods will complete environmental actions from a list of dozens of green choices, including changing outdoor lighting to LED bulbs and installing a rain barrel or two. It also could include something simple, like recycling more, or completing a task as comprehensive as installing solar panels.
Participating households will help their neighborhood team win recognition by committing to several of the listed actions within a year. The program also will connect users to local resources and more information to assist them in completing these tasks.
“Citizens will be given a long list of ways that they can be green, with the idea that it’s choice-based and fun and easy,” said Emily Barrett, the town’s sustainability manager.
In August, the town received about $54,000 in grant funding from the Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant to help kick-start the program, including a marketing campaign to raise awareness about its inception.
“The hardest thing is to know, ‘What does that mean for me personally? How do I, a small cog in a much larger machine, make a difference?’ ” said Councilwoman Lori Bush, the council liaison to the town’s environmental advisory board. “What the Cary Green Neighborhood (program) does is show you how to do that.”
Some of the tasks that will be on the green choices list are not only environmentally friendly but will also save participants money, Barrett said.
Rick Savage, a member of the environmental advisory board, said he hopes to get his neighborhood, Maynard Oaks, involved in the new program.
“To me it’s just getting the community involved. That’s what I’d like to see happen,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to have a strong sense of community anyway. I think when they do they take care of things better.”
Savage said he already is an avid recycler and recently replaced the entire HVAC system in his home to be more efficient.
Town staff and the environmental advisory board are still in the planning stages of the program and are finalizing the details of how the program will work, including creating the list of green choices and seeking out willing neighborhoods to volunteer.
“We think this will be a project that can help enrich our community and enhance the bonds within neighborhoods,” Barrett said.
The new program will likely start just before Earth Day.
“It’s meant to commemorate Earth Day and be a way we ... can celebrate all that we do for conservation,” Barrett said.
The town already encourages sustainability by providing alternate modes of transportation through the C-Tran bus service and various other environmental programs. The Cary Garden for Wildlife Program, for example, is a choice-based program where residents can make their yards a friendly habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.
“That’s an easy thing that people in Cary can do in their own yards to make a difference,” Barrett said.
Bush said the town’s creation of the sustainability manager position – Barrett’s job – has positively affected the local sustainability efforts.
“It’s Emily Barrett’s job to look across the town, at not only how we internally use their resources but how citizens can better use their resources,” she said. “All that work that she’s done has helped save people money and time.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon