Posted on behalf of Martha Murray, submitted to Ron Henricks.
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Dear Mr. Hendricks,

I am not able to attend the public hearing, but want to throw in my ideas:

In my experience, living in several different states and locals with a variety of recycling programs, the main indicators seem to be connected to ease and economics. It’s a sad commentary about us as a culture, but I try to work within current realities.

Ease – for most Americans, with our relatively lazy lifestyles, if it’s not easy, we don’t do it. I find this disgusting, but it’s a reality we must acknowledge when planning. Ease = curbside. Ease = commingled bins (people seem okay with separating paper, but the rest should go into one bin – otherwise people just don’t want to be bothered. Caring about the planet is CLEARLY not a motivator for most American households.

Economics – if recycling is free and trash costs A FORTUNE to dump, behavior will change. Even people who don’t care about the planet tend to care about their personal pocketbook. Sad, but true. My parents lived in a community where recycling was free and curbside, all in one bin. Trash, on the other hand was $8.00 per bag (and this was 10+ years ago!). People recycled and the county used high trash revenues to run a state-of-the art recycling center. These same principles could be applied to offices, public venues, business – everything.

Other factors:

Slow the flow – we need to change packaging and shipping practices and quit creating so much waste to begin with. Ban some containers – i.e. Styrofoam and other materials that cannot be recycled. Restaurants and grocery store MUST stop packaging everything in junk that ends up in our landfills. Stop the flow on the other end of the problem.

Mandate in workplaces and all public and private businesses – From what I’ve read, household trash accounts for only about 5% of the waste stream. Even if by some miracle, 100% of Florida’s households recycled ALL their recyclables, that’s a drop in the bucket. Every public building needs containers for ALL types of recycling. I would suggest placing them near trash cans, ALSO near security guards who can “police” people who are lazy and failed to separate discarded items correctly. If the expectation was “get caught putting recyclables in the trash (or trash in a recycle bin) and we’ll make you fish them out”, I think we may see behavior change in even the laziest of people.

Government offices and public entities (like our schools) could lead the PR charge by with using recycled products – you can mandate things in these workplaces, so why not let this be where change on a large scale begins. Everything from the paper we use to the lunch packaging in our cafeterias (right down to all public school buildings) could be mandated as earth friendly ONLY – recycled paper, biodegradable packaging, etc.

Smaller trash receptacles everywhere – with recycle bins VERY attractive and prominent. If trash receptacles are little and hard to find, but recycle bins are the norm, people will use them. We need to shift collective behavior. Picture a culture where it is shameful to create trash – liken it to littering or something equally obnoxious. Picture a public service announcement showing a non-recycler having to pick their catsup laden fries or yesterday’s wilted salad out of a bin of bottles and cans!! Recycling needs to be a way of life, not something we just do in our homes.

Please consider my comments.
Martha Murray