Recyclables whiz past on a conveyor belt inside Waste Management Recycling Brevard in Cocoa. (Photo: MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY)
I’ve been volunteering now with Recycle Brevard for more than five years. During that time it’s become clear to me that very few people realize just who Recycle Brevard really is and, more particularly, what Recycle Brevard does.
That fact was brought home in a big way during the recent back-and-forth on the ever-changing list of acceptable recyclable items through the county’s contract with Waste Management. I couldn’t believe the amount of complaints Recycle Brevard received having to do with what was or was not acceptable to be recycled through the county’s program and how many people blamed us for the county’s failure to notify them of changes.
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So, let me try to clarify a few facts while explaining just why I love Recycle Brevard.
Recycle Brevard is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit that operates solely through volunteers — no one is paid. It was started back in 2011, when a mother responded to a question from her daughter about where their garbage goes. That mom realized in a big way that there was a void and she did something about it. That mom is Marcia Booth, who for the past eight years has put her own money into the organization. There is no funding from the county for her work, or from anyone else for that matter. She relies totally on sponsorships and donations, which are few and far between because most people think her work is funded by someone else.
Chris Kane is a volunteer with Recycle Brevard. (Photo: For FLORIDA TODAY)
This is a woman who personally goes through recyclables which she personally picks up from events, in her own personal vehicle, because a lot of people — a lot — don’t seem to know what goes into a recycling container. I’ve seen her pull dirty diapers out of recycling containers, along with all the other things that shouldn’t be in them. Marcia spends most weekends trekking back and forth from events, delivering recycling containers and picking them up. She works with schools doing educational programs on recycling because she is adamant that our youth are the answer to this whole recycling fiasco and she’s right about that.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Marcia recently partnered with an international organization and is sponsoring environmental discussion courses at Recycle Brevard’s facility. She is pretty much a one-woman band. Go to recyclebrevard.org and you’ll find out all of the things this woman does. She’s also incredibly humble when it comes to her work in the community and she is also well respected for that work. The way that Recycle Brevard is funded is through Marcia’s own money. She works a full time job in addition to running Recycle Brevard, and has a husband who is very supportive of her passion. That is how the lights stay on at Recycle Brevard.
Organizations such as Recycle Brevard aren’t found too often and that’s why I love it so much. People who volunteer here are passionate about what they do, partly because they’re inspired by its founder.
Things in the recycling world are getting harder. This country has dug itself into a huge hole and the time is fast approaching when individuals are going to have to make some significant changes to their personal habits. We no longer have a far-off country that will take all of our garbage to make it more convenient for us. Fewer and fewer items are going to be recycled because there is no longer any market for them. We need organizations that are passionate about what they do and who work to educate people about they can do to make things better.
So, the next time you get aggravated or angry at what is or is no longer recyclable, please know that Recycle Brevard is doing everything in its power to help folks out. It’s the one making comprehensive lists online because people complained that there wasn’t one out there and said that they couldn’t get a straight answer anywhere else, And Marcia Booth is the one going through the containers pulling out things that shouldn’t be in there.
Recycle Brevard can always use help — always. If you’re interested, maybe consider volunteering for three hours a month or so yourself to help the cause.
Chris Kane, a volunteer with Recycle Brevard, lives in Port St. John with her husband their two dogs.
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