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

Collecting Things to Recycle in Miami!

Recently I decided that I am going to be collecting razors and their packaging, Febreze air care (not including aerosols), mascara wands, and single-use coffee cups, K-cups, and such. Make sure to email me at latinatreehugger@gmail.com or DM me at @latinatreehugger on Instagram if you have questions or want to drop some off to me!

No-Stink Summer 2019 (and on)

I started working recently in a job that requires me being outside A LOT. And here in Miami, that means heat and 90% humidity almost every day. Most days most of the A/C we get is from the cars we use to drive around and the lunch breaks in the office. It’s also officially summer, which means everyone needs to please, for the love of God, wear deodorant. I don’t want to have to be around stinky people (including myself) this summer. 

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Also recently, I finally finished my last deodorant stick. So, I decided that I would try to find a recipe for a deodorant that could help me stay dry and smelling fresh through my work days.

I googled a bunch of recipes and I decided that I wanted it to be as vegan as possible, so I didn’t want anything with beeswax in it. I found a really great recipe from BeautyMunsta (here). Her recipe only includes coconut oil, corn starch, baking soda, and she uses lemon eucalyptus essential oil. These are all things that most common households have in either their kitchen or anywhere else. I know I had most of these at home and the eucalyptus essential oil can be replaced with any essential you have at home.

So, I started the recipe by doing exactly what she said in her post. I mixed 4 tablespoons (more or less…I couldn’t actually find my tablespoon measure anywhere) of coconut oil, 5 of corn starch, one and one teaspoon of baking soda, and 20 or more drops of the essential oil, which in my case was eucalyptus.

The baking soda and corn starch as supposed to absorb the sweat and neutralize the stink. The coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, it moisturizes the skin, and it will prevent skin irritation and rashes. Something I didn’t know was that the lemon eucalyptus can also work as a bug repellant….so I guess this deodorant can also help keep the bugs away if you live somewhere that’s very buggy, like Miami.

You start by combining the ingredients, except the essential oil, in a pan over a low flame. Stir until everything melts and combines. Then let it cool off for around a minute and pour it into a glass jar. Not plastic because it could melt. Once in the jar, stir in the essential oil and you’re pretty much done.

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At first, my deodorant had a really, really liquidy consistency so I decided to add some more corn starch and some more baking soda. I was extremely impatient and realized that I probably had to let it sit for some time harden up.

I let it cool and harden overnight and VOILA, it worked!

It was not really a paste…so maybe sticking to the original recipe might have made it into a paste, but mine was more of the hardened deodorant consistency that I am used to. The only difference is that this one is in a glass jar and I have to scoop it out with a popsicle stick.

 

So, after I used it a couple of times in places like Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando and my job in the Everglades, I’ve come to the conclusion that it works. I do have to give you a warning that generally when I sweat, I don’t stink so much, but I haven’t been stinking at all at this job that would probably make me smell. I did add too much baking soda, which makes my armpits burn a little when I recently shave them, but it works otherwise. Just follow the recipe from BeautyMunsta and have patience and you should be good to go.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or head over the original recipe’s blog post. Definitely try this and let me know how it goes! Happy summer!

Until next time!

Dani

Episode 6: Plastic-Eating Fungi and Florida

Hey guys! I’m back with a quick podcast episode on some interesting environmental stories that I came across this week. It’s a short one, but do let me know if you have seen or heard of any other news stories that you would like me to dive further into!

Thank you for listening as always!

 

Staying Eco-Friendly at Orlando

This week I’m going to be headed to Orlando, FL to hang out at the Universal theme parks (possibly Epcot at Disney). I can’t to release some endorphins and be pumped full of adrenaline. Something I love doing and going is Universal Orlando…there’s nothing like being able to ride roller coasters one minute and then enjoying Harry Potter World the next minute.

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Something that I always forget about at these parks is staying true to the zero waste lifestyle because of what’s easiest. I know that’s another sad excuse, but it’s the truth. I just want to get on the next ride or not miss the next show so I eat whatever is easiest.

Lately, I’ve been pretty good about not creating so much waste at these theme parks. It’s so easy to just be comfortable and grab a cup of water at whatever restaurant or use their plastic utensils and throw them out. The coolest thing is getting the reaction from people waiting in line when they see my giant 64-ounce water bottle in my hand. Everyone always asks me the same thing, “you carry that around all day?? Don’t you get tired??”

My answer is simple: not really, I don’t want to use the plastic cups.

And I always get the same look and the same answer, “wow, you’re right. That’s awesome.”

Then I go and have a conversation with them about how easy it is to just add a reusable water bottle to the backpack that they already have to lug around. They don’t have to carry a giant one like I do. What most people don’t know, because they might not frequent the parks like I do, is that the vendors that have soda fountains can refill your water bottle and add ice if you ask. Free of charge. How cool? For the longest time, Universal/Island of Adventures used to give 8 water bottle vouchers for annual passholders to use in that year. Instead of that, they decided to give water for free, which they definitely should have been doing from the beginning. Anyone, annual passholder or not, can ask for free water. They obviously will give it to you in a plastic cup, hence the reusable water bottle.

Image result for universal orlando city walkThe only thing about bringing your water bottle is you have to make sure that it is empty before coming into the park, but that’s not a problem since you can have it filled up right away once you go onto City Walk. If you’ve ever been to these theme parks, you know that there is that area where the road splits between Islands of Adventure and Universal (on the GIF it’s where the screen is), where the fountains are. There’s a circular vendor station that sells snacks and drinks, I always get my water bottle filled up there, free of charge, of course.

If you want a soda, they sell “souvenir cups” that you can refill the entire day and even bring back any other day. All you have to do if you bring it on other days is pay the fee to activate it. Beats using new plastic cups and new plastic straws the entire day and any other time you go to the parks.

This time around, I want to bring my own food and my own utensils. If I bring my own reusable water bottle I won’t need to use a straw or anything, so I typically leave my straws at the hotel.

Image result for steel bento boxI want to pack my own lunch in my steel containers and take it to the park. They are okay with things like sandwiches in bags so I’m going to try and get my salad in my steel container through. I’ll definitely update on that in either another blog or the updated podcast. I really love going to these parks and I want to find new ways in which I can reduce my waste on my trips.

Here is what’s on the Universal Theme Parks website:

Outside Food And Drinks

We offer a variety of food options at restaurants and concession stands throughout our resort. However, we understand that guests may need to bring outside food and drinks. Please note the following guidelines:

Acceptable Items

Bottled Water (maximum 2 liters)

Small snacks that do not require heating

Any food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplements

Any food required for special dietary needs

Baby food/baby formula

Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5″ wide x 6″ high x 6″ deep

Prohibited Items

Glass containers

Open containers

Hard-sided coolers

Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5″ wide x 6″ high x 6″ deep

Picnic lunches

Food that requires heating or refrigeration

Folding chairs

So…I take my salad as being a part of my special diet since I have PCOS and am also a vegetarian? It’s a risky move, but I am willing to risk it if it means I get to save some money while also reducing my waste! It’s also more sustainable since I am the one purchasing my produce and I know where it has come from. I’m not throwing shade or anything at Universal, but I don’t know where they get their food from…

I don’t know of any other ways that I can reduce waste. I was thinking of bringing my own small cloth for bathrooms instead of paper towels? I just thought about that one right as I was writing this blog post.

I think for now those are the things that stand out the most to me when I think about wasteful things at theme parks. I will definitely make a podcast at the part (possibly?) if I am appalled by the amount of waste that I see.

If you have any questions specific to the park, I might have the answer so feel free to comment or message me! Make sure you catch the latest blog post here and my latest podcast episode here.

Until next time!

Dani

Microplastics in the AIR?

Hey guys, so I’m taking a little break from posting only podcasts and I’m going to get on here and write some short and sweet blog posts for the times that you or I can’t do the podcast thing.

Let’s talk about plastics…again. This time let’s focus on microplastics.

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I don’t know if you have been following any news source lately or if it’s just my college department’s newsletter, but I have been seeing a lot of news regarding microplastics. I’ve always known that they are an issue, obviously, but I didn’t think it was getting this out of hand.

Nature and NPR released articles relating to finding microplastics in the air in France’s Pyrenees Mountains.

Microplastics….in the air….

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Now we can’t breathe in either…first, we couldn’t eat salt from the ocean or fish and now we can’t even breathe in France and around the world. Incredible…

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These are the mountains in France, the Pyrenees Mountains.

All jokes aside, this is actually really alarming. Apparently, high amounts of microplastics are raining down on a remote and seemingly pristine part of the mountains and according to scientists, they could potentially be floating everywhere. So now it’s raining microplastics, too. I honestly don’t know how this isn’t extremely alarming to anyone else besides the professors that are sending the students these news articles.

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Let’s go back a little bit and talk about what microplastics are really. They are small pieces of plastic less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life. Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including larger plastic debris that degrades into smaller and smaller pieces. According to NOAA, microbeads, a type of microplastic, are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants to health and beauty products, such as cleansers and toothpaste. They easily pass through the water filtration systems and end up in the ocean and they pose a potential threat to aquatic life.

We need to be more aware of the way we are affecting our environment. Now it’s not even a matter of not using a plastic straw, it’s a matter of just completing stopping the use of plastic or generating better ways to recycle it or to reuse it in products we “can’t live without” or products that everyone uses. If we can find ways to repurpose all of this plastic we are wasting and throwing away, we could definitely make a huge difference. Obviously, completely getting off plastic worldwide is the goal, but we have to start somewhere, right?

So how did they find the microplastic in the mountains? Well, one day the researcher who was part of the team dreamed up the experiment, Steve Allen, thought about what happens to something like a plastic bag on a fence flapping away…the plastic has to go somewhere once you don’t see that bag there anymore. Allen’s team set up some collectors there for like five months to trap the plastic particles and they said they expected some, but not as many as they actually found.

They found…. get this…365 plastic particles on average every day on a square meter collector. They found several types of microplastic floating on the wind in the Pyrenees like fibers from clothing, and bits from plastic bags, plastic film, and packaging material.

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This is the kind of example of plastics stuck somewhere that will eventually break down into micro ones.

Apparently, it isn’t even local. The closest villages around the mountain are within 60 miles of the study site. In the NPR article, they said that scientists know how dust travels, like from the Sahara across the Atlantic, but scientists basically don’t know anything about how microplastics move. It’s not something that people have been observing in nature for decades…. this is something that has been happening recently.

So, this next part is the part that kind of shocked me a lot, besides the already shocking conclusion that there are microplastics in a mountain range that is 4,500 feet above sea level. Allen says that if this much micro plastic manages to get halfway up the Pyrenees mountains, it could theoretically be everywhere. And that probably means that we are most likely inhaling them right now. Another scary thing is that if we are inhaling them, what will happen to us? We don’t really know how our human systems will react to microplastic. Chelsea Rochman, a plastic researched at the University of Toronto found microplastics as far away from civilization as the Arctic. So, it doesn’t matter that you personally don’t use any plastics, if the person in another country is still using it. The broken-down plastics will find their way to you, apparently. Obviously, this is all speculation, but scientists believe it’s probably what’s happening.

If you want to read the NPR article yourself here it is. It’s really alarming to think that plastics are in our air now, but that is something for you to have an opinion, or not, about. Tell your friends about this and make them aware of what is going on in our environment. This is in France, but the trade winds and all the other wind systems make these things travel to us or to you.

Until next time and don’t breathe too much! (haha…just kidding?)

Dani

Episode 5: Carbon Footprints!

Have you ever wondered about carbon footprints? Maybe you want to offset your emissions somehow…well it’s a thing you can do and I talk a little bit about it on this episode!