Miamians embrace recycling: The future is today

Residents take steps to become eco-friendly

South Florida residents make a difference when it comes to making their community more livable.

Jeanmarie Massa, recycling manager for Miami-Dade County, has received much feedback from residents about regular recycling and composting at home. “More and more residents are getting involved with making their community more eco-friendly,’’ she said.

Miami-Dade County switched from a dual-stream to a single-stream recycling program in 2008. Residents no longer have to separate the recyclable materials and use two 18-gallon box-like bins.

Miami-Dade County lets people dispose of recycling items by placing them in a blue-wheeled 65-gallon cart and taking it out at the scheduled day.

Among the materials allowed in the recycling containers are paper products such as newspapers, magazines, catalogs, printer paper; cardboard, plastic containers with narrow necks only, and bottles with no caps or lids. For the complete list of products allowed in the blue recyclable container, residents can visit the Miami-Dade Green website at

“Now the resident does not have to drag two heavy bins to the curb every week and the recyclable materials are no longer at the mercy of wind and rain,” said Massa.

The change had significant impact. After its full implementation, annual tons collected increased by 88 percent compared with the year before, according to the online information.

Massa said in an e-mail that a recycling program has been in place since 1990. In 2006 Miami-Dade County recycling officials decided to request proposals for a new program to make it easier for residents.

The switch is not the only reason recycling is a hit. Helping the environment is a main motivation for involvement. One Miami resident said she has recycled since the fourth grade.

Ligia Obregon, 25, of the West Kendall suburb, said, “That was when I originally heard the benefits of recycling for both humankind and Mother Earth. Although at that age I understood the benefits, I was mainly persuaded because of the points in class my teacher would bribe us with.”

Obregon, an administrative assistant and trainer at the University of Miami medical campus, consciously helps the environment on a daily basis.

“Now that I am older, I no longer just understand the benefits, but the consequences as well,’’ she said. “I would like our Mother Earth to conserve itself for my kids, their kids, and continuous generations. I do my part in hopes that I am making a bit of a difference.”

Although not a mother yet, Obregon said she will one day teach her kids about the good that recycling does.

“I will start by getting them used to the different bins we have in the house and little by little teaching them different ways to recycle,’’ she said. “I want them to get in the habit of doing this without even thinking.”

In Miami, Ana Pasternac, a mother of two, said she recycles for her kids and teaches them the benefits.

“You preserve the environment and you are taking care of your children’s future,” she said.

Maky Rodriguez, who lives in Kendall, says her main purpose in recycling is for her grandchildren, now a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl.

“I want the world to have better environment for my grandchildren when they grow up,’’ she said.

Ricardo Rincon, 40, a biologist living in Miami Beach, participates in recycling because it benefits his community and the Earth.

“I started recycling because of the serious waste disposal problems that exist. The more that is recycled, the less garbage that we have in the landfills. Every little bit helps,” Rincon said.

The switch to single-stream has also made a difference in the economic side for Miami-Dade County. “The proposal called for the use of automated recycling trucks and it was determined collection would be every other week,’’ Massa said. “By collecting every other week, almost half the number of trucks is needed for the job, reducing our carbon footprint and offering a cost that would allow us to purchase and deliver 350,000 recycling carts without having to raise rates.”

Residents can sign up for alerts for recycling by going to

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One response to “Miamians embrace recycling: The future is today”

  1. C Sargent says:

    I think it is important to teach young kids to start to recycle. They are the future. If all the kids understand the importance of recycling and do it out of habit, then the world will be a better place. I know people in my grade who don’t think its important to recycle and don’t care about the enviornment, and i think it’s because their parents didn’t care either and the school system just said it was important, but didn’t tell us why. I think that if school systems inform students on the benefits and implications of recycling they are more likely to recycle themselves as they get older and could even get their parents to do it because their parents need to set a good example for their kids.