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Fireman Brian Wilson of Charleston, S.C., separates bottles from aluminum cans

Fireman Brian Wilson of Charleston, S.C., separates bottles from aluminum cans, courtesy US Navy.

Charleston is a beautiful place, and we are continuously amazed at how much the city and county encourage sustainability and environmental stewardship. We wanted to point out some of the environmentally friendly programs in the area.

The city has in the works eight publicly accessible plug-in vehicle charging stations in its Gaillard Garage, the Visitors’ Center Garage and the Queen Street Garage. Once all these stations are installed, South Carolina will have a total of 67 plug-in vehicle charging stations. Columbia has 10, Spartanburg has 18 and Greenville has 16. Other places in the state with charging stations are Rock Hill and Myrtle Beach.

South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G), Charleston’s power utility is encouraging residents to go green by offering up to a $2,500 rebate on energy upgrades through its EnergyWise program. The program looks to cut down on energy wasting problems, such as old and inefficient heating and cooling systems, drafty rooms and hot and cold spots. Upgrades that qualify for rebates include insulation and air infiltration improvements, duct sealing, heating and cooling system replacement, programmable thermostats and other upgrades. For more information on the program: sceg/home.com.

In a bid to make its compost greener, Charleston County has put a ban on using plastic bags for yard waste. Yard waste collected is currently composted, but it cannot be sold commercially because it has strands of plastic in it. The bas first took effect June 30, 2011 but was delayed several times. The official ban now starts on November 1, but comes with a 90-day transition period. North Charleston has elected to continue collecting yard waste in plastic bags, but elsewhere in Charleston County, yard waste must be contained in paper yard bags.

Charleston’s recycling program has recently expanded. Charleston County now takes plastics No. 1 through No. 7 (they used to only accept No. 1 and No. 2 plastics). Residents no longer have to separate their recycling, and many parts of Charleston County have been supplied with large roller bins for recycling. Charleston County has a goal of recycling 40 percent of its waste. For more information on Charleston County recycling: charlestoncounty.org

Another interesting environmentally friendly program in Charleston is the Charleston Parks Conservancy. The nonprofit organization partners with the City of Charleston to bring community members in to care for the city’s parks through volunteer and fundraising programs. Events include park maintenance, community gardens, tree planting, celebratory meals in the parks, festivals, nature walks and other educational programs. For more information: charlestonparksconservancy.org.

This is just the tip of the “green”berg–check out the Charleston Green Committee for more information, conservation-minded ideas and to sign up for their email newsletter.