Monday, March 28, 2011

Is Green really Universal?

Today we went to Islands of Adventures in Orlando. We love both parks and our daughter simply adores the Cat in the Hat and all the Dr. Seuss area. She is also starting to enjoy roller-coasters and the best one for her in the park is the one in the Harry Potter area.

Those parks are always crowded, no matter which day you go to visit. Today was no exception: loads of families, big groups, cheerleaders, small groups, couples, kids, you name it!

We started from the Dr. Seuss area and went up to the Harry Potter area. We noticed that most areas had NO recycling bins and people were just throwing their water and soda bottles and a bunch of other recyclables straight into the regular trash. "Oh, no!" we thought.

Just then we saw an employee of the park going around, pushing a huge half-a-dumpster-size trash that held a small, green, 30-gallon-tall-kitchen-like recycling bin. He was picking some items from the top of the regular trash cans and putting them in his little green bin. It was good to see that he was putting in the recycling bin some of the items thrown in the trash by park-goers, but how much of the recyclables thrown in the regular trash was he really picking up? Would all recyclables items from thousands of people fit in that little green bin? Does that little green bin really work? And even if it works from the recycling perspective, does it help in educating people about recycling?

So we came back from the park and I decided to search the internet a little to see if I could find anything about recycling programs at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I found a nice site called Green is Universal that talks a lot about sustainability at NBC Universal, green programs, etc. But where are the recycling bins at the park?

That site has a page that states: "Both the movie studio and theme park at Universal Studios in Hollywood continued enhancing their various recycling and reuse efforts with a focus of food waste and composting programs. Through its combined recycling efforts, Universal kept 70% of its waste from landfills."

That is good to know. 70% is a lot, but where are the bins for all those thousands of people to use at the park? Is this part of the enhancements planned for sometime in the future? We left the park puzzled. I am not sure I can really agree now that green is Universal...

Recycle Brevard!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Great Community Events

Last Saturday was a great green day! Not only the weather was nice to be out exploring, but also we had a few good events to attend.

There was the St. Johns River clean up from 8am to 12pm, the 13th Annual Trade Show from the SCCA in partnership with the Brevard’s Green Team from 9am to 12pm, and the Eco-Friendly Fair at the zoo from 10am to 4pm.

Since my daughter loves the zoo (and I do too!), we went to the Eco-Friendly Fair. It was great! There were activities for the kids, information for the grown-ups and for the kids too.

Besides sharing information and demonstrating how to make rugs out of old t-shirts, edible play-dough using peanut butter or chocolate, and creative planters out of juice bags, the staff was eager to explain all about their conservation projects and share resources on reusing and recycling. These are some of the new resources they recommended:

·   Planet Green (www.planetgreen.com) – this is a Discovery site with loads of information, quizzes, and good ideas.

·   The Greens (http://www.meetthegreens.org/) – a site for kids that has entertaining ways to engage kids in learning about conservation, re-using items, and saving energy.

·   The Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (http://www.eelbrevard.com/) – the site has information on the program, a guide to the conservation, education and recreation sanctuaries, and a list of events. There are 12 sanctuaries with plenty to explore! You can see a map of all the sanctuaries at  http://www.eelbrevard.com/pubs/eel_brochure.pdf.

 

Keep Brevard Beautiful was also there. We stopped by to talk to them. I was happy to learn that Keep Brevard Beautiful is one of the top participants in all the programs countrywide. Way to go Brevard! 

We also learned more about the upcoming Trash Bash on April 16th from 8am to 12pm. The bash will take place in several sites in North, Central, and South Brevard. For a complete list, visit http://www.keepbrevardbeautiful.org/events_trashbash.html. For more information, contact Barb at bvenutokbb@yahoo.com or 321-631-0501 x. 203 or 321-480-9273 (cell).

Great events then and more to come!

Recycle Brevard!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is this Really just a Local Issue?

The other day I posted the links to this blog and the corresponding Facebook page on a National Green board of which I am a member. My goal was to:
  1. Get group members also from Brevard to embrace this initiative and participate;
  2. Let others know how low the percentage of population who recycle is in our area and the need to get more people on board;
  3. Let everybody who already lives (or try to live) a "green" life know about this initiative -- maybe it could inspire someone else to start the same thing somewhere else. 
I was surprised by the reaction of a member who said not to care about the recycling reality in Brevard county. That made me think: should that person who advocates for a green life-style really not care? Why would local recycling facts not matter to others in the country? Is this really a local issue only? 

EPA's numbers for 2009 (Facts and Figures for 2009) tells us that recycling is not only a local issue; it is indeed a national issue. Even though over the decades there was an increase in the national recycling rate from less than 10 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in 1980 to almost 34 percent in 2009, and there was a decrease of the disposal of waste to landfills from 89 percent of the amount generated in 1980 to about 54 percent in 2009, EPA's report shows that still only 33.8% of the national waste is recycled; the rest of it is either burned or disposed of in landfills.

"Over the last few decades, the generation, recycling, composting, and disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) have changed substantially" (EPA), but there is a lot more to be done... And since the country is made up of states, which are made up of a number of counties, what is happening in each county should matter!

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in Brevard County, FL only 31% of the population recycle. In the whole state of Florida that number drops a bit to only 28% (http://appprod.dep.state.fl.us/www_rcra/reports/WR/Recycling/2008AnnualReport/AppendixA/5A.pdf). In order to improve the state numbers, in 2008 the government passed the Energy, Climate Change, and Economic Security Act.

The goal set by the Florida's Energy, Climate Change, and Economic Security Act of 2008 (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/recyclinggoal75/) is to have the state recycling rate reach 75% by 2020. As posted on Ocala.com, some see the challenge as a difficult one and probably impossible to achieve. "You can mandate 75 percent all you want, but it doesn't mean it's going to be reused, without the market, (recycling goals are) destined to fail."

The Ocala site reports that "Mary Jean Yon, FDEP's director of the division of waste management, said the 75 percent goal was achievable using her agency's recommendations. [...]

Some of the FDEP's recommendations include:
  • Require state agencies to meet the 75 percent goal.
  • Apply the 75 percent goal to counties with populations greater than 100,000 people and cities with populations greater than 50,000.
  • Require commercial recycling in large counties and cities to include multi-family residential units such as apartments and condominiums, as well as institutional facilities such as schools and hospitals.
  • Direct school districts to implement recycling programs.
  • Create recycling grants or loan programs to help local governments reach a 75 percent recycling goal.
  • Require that construction and demolition debris disposal facilities be modified to include a materials recovery facility that separates recyclable materials instead of allowing it to go to landfills.
  • Create a recycling business assistance center to promote markets for the entire spectrum of recyclable municipal solid waste materials, organic and inorganic."
We are up for the challenge and all counties need to participate. If Florida reaches the 75% rate, this will be extremely positive to the whole country, so do not think that this effort interests locals only. No, it is not just a local issue.

Recycle Brevard!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Learn About Your Trash

Recently, we went on a landfill tour at the Central Disposal Facility in Cocoa. My daughter, who is six, was curious about where trash was taken after it left our home, so we went to find out.

I scheduled a date and time with Erin LeClair, the landfill tour guide, and when the day came, we met with her at the Cocoa location, got into her van and off we went.

Erin was awesome. She showed us around and we learned about the landfill, the leachate tank, the different collection/storage areas, the Landfill Gas Plant, and more. On the page Your Guide to the Central Disposal Facility you can read about these and also learn more about the Central Facility.

The area is huge, 957 acres to be precise, but at the pace we are going, we will need a larger area just to hold our trash!

All that we throw in the trash goes to the landfill and stays there for a long, long time. The current landfill in Cocoa will be closed in approximately three years when they estimate it will reach 205ft high. Yep, 205ft of trash!

Another landfill is being created right behind the existing one, so when the current one closes, the new one can immediately be used.

In order to make our landfills last so we do not need to use any more land to store our trash, we should reduce the amount of trash we send to the landfills. You can do many things to reduce the amount of trash that goes in your trash can and is taken to the landfills: sell it, give it away, re-use it, compost it or recycle it!

In the tour I learned that only 30% of the population of Brevard County recycle. Only thirty percent! I was really surprised. But the good news is that there is a lot we can do.

So schedule a tour, learn about your trash and see what you can do with it. The whole county will benefit from it. 


If we all reduce the trash that goes into our trash cans, if we all recycle, the county does not need to get stuck with our garbage. Instead, we can use the land for something else.

Recycle Brevard!

To schedule your own tour, you may contact Erin at 321-633-2043. Families, schools, friends, neighbors are all welcome. Her van fits 10 people and the tour is very informative, an eye-opener. It takes approximately one hour and I highly recommend it.