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Pride of the Pine Belt: Southern Miss student creates sustainability group

FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) -

When University of Southern Mississippi Polymer Science and Engineering Graduate Student, Katrina Knauer is not researching ways to cut down harmful emissions in the Aerospace Industry, she's helping the campus recycle, or petitioning for grants to maintain bike trails.

Another way she tries to spread the message of sustainable living is organizing bike flash mobs.

"We all really don't like how Hattiesburg is not accommodating to bikers or pedestrians," said Knauer.

Knauer and her biking friends are trying to create biker awareness in Hattiesburg.

"So, we are trying to petition for more bike lanes, more side walks," said Knauer.

Biking is just one of the initiatives Knauer is passionate about.

"We also have started a recycling movement here on campus to try to promote recycling awareness, and help people know where they can drop off their recycling and how they can get it picked up," said Knauer.

Knauer recalls biking and recycling was a way of life during her undergraduate years at Florida State, so she took action to bring a certain way of life on Southern Miss campus.

"I decided to start the group Sustainability Advocates to get the awareness out there, to let people know the choices that are available to them to make a more sustainable, healthier lifestyle," said Knauer.

For more than a year, Knauer and the Sustainability Advocates have worked to bring a green way of living to the Southern Miss campus.

"We are having a right way to throw away day. That is going to be October 27. Basically, a day for people in Hattiesburg to bring products that they are not quite sure how to get rid of in a healthy sustainable way," said Knauer.

Knauer says one of their biggest jobs are on game day.

"We walk around to tail gates and collect their recycling, because that is a really huge waste producer," said Knauer.

The advocates are going a step further. They've applied for a grant to maintain the mountain biking trails off the trace for bikers. And you wouldn't completely be green without this.

"Also we are starting a community garden," said Knauer.

Knauer believes these endeavors are the right steps to going green, but her message is these projects are about more than the generic going green statement we all hear about.

"You are not just healthy for the environment, you are healthy for yourself. Basically, supporting better decisions for our country and for our planet in general," said Knauer.

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