Living Local: Florida

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The Living Local series is an insider’s look at local environmental efforts and accessibility. Take a trip around the U.S. without leaving your computer!

Florida has a bright future when it comes to recycling goals and resources for residents eager to reduce waste and enjoy more of the many resources that the sunshine state has to offer. Some of these initiatives include:

  1. Attempting to Triple Recycling Rates
  2. Putting It To The Public
  3. Florida Fresh
  4. The Council at the Center of Sustainability
  5. Education and Outreach

Working to Triple Recycling Rates

While Florida’s current rate is 28 percent, The Energy, Climate Change, and Economic Security Act of 2008 set a lofty goal of a 75 percent recycling rate by the year 2020. Floridians interested in learning about recycling regulations can check their county Web sites for curbside rules as well as contacting their county recycling coordinator with specific questions.

Announced in April, Miami's initiative, called “Energy Smart Miami,” is expected to create 800 to 1,000 jobs to implement a wide range of technologies to improve electricity delivery and electricity management. Photo: Flickr/anonymonk

Announced in April, Miami's initiative, called “Energy Smart Miami,” is expected to create 800 to 1,000 jobs to implement a wide range of technologies to improve electricity delivery and electricity management. Photo: Flickr/anonymonk

Contact information for each county’s recycling coordinator can be found on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Web site.

Residents looking for ways to dispose of tough to recycle items such as household hazardous waste, batteries and CFL light bulbs can visit the DEP’s Web site as well as use Earth911’s recycling locator.

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Putting it to the Public

The state is determined to drastically improve recycling rates, and in order to achieve these goals, Florida will need to rely heavily on participation and compliance from residents.

Residents can attend public meetings and also offer ideas and comments in an online public forum. Some of the suggestions for increasing recycling rates include:

  • Working with a private company such as RecycleBank, which has already partnered with North Miami
  • Charging a fee per household based on volume of trash produced
  • Enacting a bottle bill, which would charge a deposit on cans and bottles

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Florida Fresh

It is no surprise that a state known for its sunshine boasts a year-round bounty of fresh produce. The Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services maintains a listing by county of all the farmers’ markets in the state from Alachua to Washington. The Web site also offers information about the seasonal availability of different types of crops, recipes and information about organic certification.

Those interested in completing the cycle with compost and perhaps growing some of their own tasty produce can start by visiting Florida’s Online Composting Center, which is maintained by the Sarasota County Extension Service. The site offers a complete tutorial on starting and maintaining a composting system, information about different types of compost bins and links to additional resources.

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The Council at the Center of Sustainability

With incredible natural resources and a large population, Florida residents have much incentive to embrace and encourage sustainable living and business practices. In 1989, the Florida legislature started the Environmental Education Foundation of Florida.

In 1994, the organization was renamed the Governor’s Council for Sustainable Florida, and it later became a nonprofit organization and merged with the Collins Center for Public Policy. Today, Sustainable Florida – Collins Center is “dedicated to promoting and expanding sustainable practices and programs in Florida,” and its Web site is a great resource for businesses and residents interested in doing the same.

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Education and Outreach

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection offers The Recycle Guys Campaign, a free educational outreach campaign to schools, municipalities and counties. For those looking for creative ways to reuse, the Florida Reusable Resource Network guide is available for download at the DEP Web site along with other helpful Web and print resources. The site also offers many resources for businesses interested in improving recycling rates.

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