Episode 7: Recycling in Miami, FL

These last couple of weeks have been a little hectic for me. And by a little, I mean extremely hectic. I get home from work at around 7 PM and all I want to do is go to sleep. This might mean that I don’t get to create waste, but I have been really thinking about reducing my waste back again. I still stare at my 5 drawers of makeup every day and think about what I should do with it. I know TerraCycle has a makeup recycling box, but that costs around $100 for a small 11- by 11- by 20-inch box. I can definitely think of it as an investment and something I can maybe try to fundraise for. I can always fill it up with my friends and those around me, but it is still hard for me to justify paying that from my own pocket since my salary has decreased by a lot with my new job. A job I love.

I did want to conduct some more research through TerraCycle, though, since I noticed that some of the specific items they had recycling programs do have drop-off locations. I had no idea that drop-off locations were a thing. Now I know, though. And now I am going to start harassing people for their unwanted or garbage items that can be recycled.

So this podcast and post are for you guys in Miami. My friends, followers, and listeners. If you know anyone who lives an hour or closer to Miami, send them my way. I am going to focus what little energy and time I have left in my days to recycle for everyone. If I can’t make people use their canvas bags when they go shopping, I will make them recycle…even if I have to do the work. I want to motivate those around me to recycle and reduce as much as possible.

The first thing to do for me was look at what Miami Dade County’s recycling program actually recycles. So here is the list of things that they will actually recycle…some of the items on the “do not recycle” list might surprise you…they sure surprised me.

Things to recycle:

  • Paper products clean and dry: newspapers, magazines, catalogs, telephone books, printer paper, copier paper, mail and all other office paper without wax liners
  • Cardboard: packing boxes, cereal boxes, gift boxes, and corrugated cardboard; Flatten all boxes before placing them in your cart
  • Metals: aluminum (cans and bottles only) & steel (cans only) food and beverage containers
  • Aseptic containers: poly-coated drink boxes, juice cartons, and milk cartons
  • Glass: glass food & beverage containers (clear, brown and green)
  • Plastic containers (bottles only): bottles, milk, water, detergent, soda and shampoo containers (flatten and replace cap) This is done through TerraCycle it seems since it shows on their website.

That last one is important: Plastic containers (bottles only). That means no plastic bags. So to all my Hispanics out there that reuse their plastic bags for anything, it is not recyclable in Dade County.

Other things that are not recyclable through the county include pizza boxes, paper or cardboard soiled with liquid or food waste, batteries, certain plastics like cups, utensils and plates, foam products, egg cartons and trays, margarine and butter tubs, yogurt cups, and plastic hangers. Certain glass products like window or auto glass, light bulbs, mirrors, glass cookware or bakeware, and ceramics. Other non-recyclables like wire coat hangers, small appliances, and microwave trays. Home chemicals like paints, pesticides, pool chemicals, fertilizers, and other hazardous waste. Medical waste and pharmaceuticals and obviously electronic waste and accessories like computers and such. And textiles.

So let’s dissect all of that, yeah?

Pizza boxes…not recyclable because it has food waste on it. Batteries, you have to recycle other ways because they have chemicals in them. I will add a link to the blog post associated with this podcast with instructions from Miami Dade County on how to dispose of batteries. I don’t say recycle because I actually don’t think they are recycled. You can’t recycle plastic cups, utensils, and plates….remember that one. I know people who think those are recyclable here in Miami Dade county…well they are not. So don’t put them in your blue bin. Basically, none of the plastic things you think would be recyclable are. This is probably because of the number of plastic that they are and whether it is just cheaper to use virgin plastic instead of the recycled one. Sucks, but it’s the truth.

For the textiles, like clothes, shoes, bedding, and such, H&M, as I’ve mentioned before, will take them to reuse in their own clothes through their recycling program. For every 3 or more items, you will get a 15% off discount on your next purchase. So there’s that. Chemicals like the paints and that, I don’t know what to do about, but I hope none of you are using such excessive amounts that you might need to know. Unless you’re in the painting business.

Now let’s talk about where the things you can’t just throw in your blue bin would go to be recycled. TerraCycle is a great place to start. For certain items, they have drop-off locations or programs where you can just ship the items to. So far, I am on the waitlist for the Personal Care and Beauty Recycling Program and have been for months and the Tom’s of Maine Natural Care Recycling Program. They do have some drop off locations, but nowhere near South Florida. So I will continue to buy their toothpaste and just save the tubes until I can send them through TerraCycle. They also sell mouthwashes and deodorants, so maybe check them out if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly company?

I have registered in the two following programs though: the Febreze Air Care Recycling Program and the Gillette Razor recycling program. If you know me or know of me and would want to drop off some of those items, I will gladly ship them to be recycled for you.

The Gillette Razor Program will accept all brands of blades and razors (systems and disposable units, and replaceable-blade cartridge units), rigid plastic packaging, and flexible plastic bag packaging.

The Febreze one is also very similar. They will accept All brands of air freshener cartridges and plugs, packaging and flexible film packaging, and trigger heads. They DO NOT accept the plastic bottles since those can be recycled through the blue bins on your curb. This also does not include the aerosol cans since those have special instructions on how to be recycled. There do seem to be some aerosol recycling centers, but not in Miami….there are some in Hollywood and at the beginning of Key Largo. I’ll add the link to the map, that is nationwide, so you can see if there are any locations that you are willing to drive to if you use a lot of aerosol things.

I’ve also got really good news for those people who haven’t decided to stop using coffee cups and capsules. There are drop off locations at Subaru dealers for disposable cups, lids, and straws, candy and snack wrappers, and coffee and creamer capsules. The one that is more in Miami is the Bird Road Subaru. The address is 7240 Bird Road, Miami, FL. They will take any brand of any of the previously mentioned items.

Obviously, the goal is still to try and reduce waste and to stop using things that we don’t really need like single-use plastic, but there are programs where you can recycle the abovementioned things if you do forget your reusable items or just don’t know how to replace the item with something less wasteful. If you have any questions or know of someone who wants to recycle the things I have volunteered to collect, direct them to my Instagram page @latinatreehugger.

I am also taking glasses frames to send to a company that will reuse them to give poorer countries eyeglasses. Mostly for the kids, but they will reuse them. I will set up due dates for shipping of these items and have already set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to try and buy some of the personal care zero waste boxes to have for those who live around me. 

Thank you so much for listening and reading! Don’t forget, if you do have any questions at all, contact me!

Until next time,

Dani

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