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A remarkable trend has begun in the Ozarks: people here--as well as major institutions--are beginning to realize that preserving the earth's resources, or "going green," is a personal responsibility incumbent on every one who walks the earth's soil, drinks her water and breathes her air. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.
Michael and Jess Garner have lived in Springfield for two years. Ages 27 and 26, they have three Great Danes and their first baby is due any day now.
At first glance, their household doesn't reveal anything unusual. But a tour of their home showed something extraordinary: they are a "green" couple.
Michael shows me the programmable thermostat they installed in their home to save energy.
Next, we go to the garage, where I see three boxes of items to be recycled.
Michael and Jess Garner are a symbol of the "Green Generation." They were raised hearing about a hole in the ozone layer and could probably tell you what "recycling" meant as small children.
They also represent a shift in who's making the environment a priority: as one local biologist said, caring about the earth was once confined to so-called "hippie tree-huggers," who were usually written off as a fringe group.
But the Garners are anything but. She's a speech pathologist and he's a young banker, complete with shirt and tie.
They also bought an Energy-saving fridge and use energy-efficient light bulbs throughout their house. They say the savings they've experienced since "going green" are significant.
And they are also playing a part in getting the community to step aboard the Green Movement.
Michael is Co-Chair of the new Partnership for Sustainability, a group of local businesses and institutions who have committed to make the environment a priority.
The other Co-Chair is Emily Fox, CEO of Discovery Center of Springfield. Discovery Center's recycled rubber stairwells, use of rainwater to flush the toilets and walls insulated with spray foam help make it southwest Missouri's first LEED gold certified building.
Fox says the Partnership for Sustainability shows that Greene County's biggest institutions are finally serious about taking care of the planet.
She's been in southwest Missouri for 20 years now, but the last couple of years are when the green movement really started taking off here.
She said other businesses and institutions are welcome to join the Partnership for Sustainability. Members in the partnership aim to share helpful tips or practices with each other, and also with the public.
Fox believes the trend will continue. She says it's her dream that one day, every home in the Ozarks will be recycling, for starters.
She says going green is easy to do, it just means changing your habits. But everyone, she said, can make a difference by just doing their part.
For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.