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Green movement eyes state’s highways, biways

The environmentally-conscious green movement has been red-hot lately.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has begun an anti-litter advertising campaign with billboards urging motorists to “Think Green, Keep Mississippi Clean.”

Jackson State University’s recently opened engineering building, constructed with recycled materials and eco-friendly paint, is the state’s first publicly funded building certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s rating system for green buildings. Ole Miss is holding a Green Week in April.

Businesses across the state are coming up with ways to conserve energy and reduce paper consumption, all in the name of cost savings and environmental awareness.

The automotive industry is going green, too. The industry leader in the movement, Toyota, was the first to mass-produce a hybrid vehicle, the Prius, which debuted in the 1990s and will eventually be built in Blue Springs.

If Jerry Walls has his way, all the Priuses in Mississippi will eventually have a green-themed Mississippi license plate.

Walls, the executive director of the Clinton Community Nature Center (CCNC) in Clinton, is spearheading an effort to add to Mississippi’s collection of novelty tags a plate with “Think Global, Act Local” written on the bottom and “Go Green” stamped on the side.

“We first started it as the Clinton Community Nature Center tag,” Walls said. “We started thinking that was going to have a limited appeal because not everyone that would buy the tag in Mississippi was from Clinton. We started thinking ‘Go Green.’ We thought that would be a more universal approach, statewide approach. That’s what we’re hanging out hat on and hopefully other people will do the same.”

Before the Mississippi State Tax Commission will certify the tag, 300 have to be presold, with applicants paying the novelty tag fee of $31 up front.

About 60 applications have come in, Walls said. The CCNC has partnered with a Jackson-area marketing firm to begin the full-court promotional press.

Anyone with a vehicle registered in the State of Mississippi is eligible to apply for the tag.

“We’ve just now really started to push it,” Walls said. “I’m hoping with this push that we have on that we can reach that 300.”

Green initiatives have historically had short life spans. Necessity could dictate the latest environmental uprising sticking around. The average price for a gallon of gasoline peaked in 2008 in the $4 range. Prices have since fallen considerably, but have shown steady gains the past month. When the summer vacation season hits, most analysts agree that oil prices will rise with the temperature.

To cope with a dwindling supply of energy, and to give the environmental movement a makeover from its radical image, education has to be a priority, Walls said.

“I think it’s time to increase the green awareness statewide and promote activities to improve our state’s environment,” he said. “Recycling kind of comes and goes. People get interested in it and then it fades off. We’re not really extremists. We don’t go around hugging trees all the time. I think if everyone got a little bit greener, just a little tiny bit, I think we’d be much better off.”

To download an application for Mississippi’s “Go Green” tag, visit the CCNC’s web site at www.clintonnaturecenter.org.

Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@msbusiness.com .


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