Recycle Brevard: A One Stop Shop for Recycling Anything

There is a non-profit organization in Brevard that has captured my attention thoroughly and it has also captured my heart. Recycle Brevard is run by the amazing Marcia Booth, a woman who just wanted to make a change in her community, so she decided to BE THE CHANGE. I sat down with Marcia and interviewed her about Recycle Brevard and asked her to share her story about how this eco-friendly organization got started. I was amazed and astounded with what she told me and what she has done.

How it all began…

The first time Marcia felt the weight of the problem was when she went to tour a landfill in 2011 with her daughter and discovered that in Brevard County, only about 30% of recyclable material actually made it to the recycling facilities and the rest was landfilled. She looked around her in amazement as she witnessed mountain after mountain piled high with trash and wasted resources. As she let the sights and smells sink in around her, she watched her daughter’s eyes protrude from her head in amazement at the waste and pollution around her, she desperately wanted to find a way to help.

Marcia was determined to make a change and it got her thinking about why that problem existed in the first place. She proceeded to research more about the community and tried to find ways to recycle more of her own items. After some time, Marcia realized that a lot of the problem was that there was no place to conveniently take items to be recycled that couldn’t go in her recycling bin at home. Things like batteries, empty make-up, razor blades, unwanted remnants of fabric, plastics, and really anything else that we all regularly throw into the trash can.

So what did she do?

Marcia created a simple information sharing Facebook page and a blog. One of the first events she did under the ‘Recycle Brevard’ name was handing out recycling information at the Merritt Island Rotary Park grand opening event in April 2011. She gathered everything she could find on the subject including all the County’s brochures and educational information about the Brevard Zoo. She wanted to not only provide information on how to recycle properly to for residents but also provide them with examples of how that was making a difference and how it impacted the wildlife habitats in our area.

For about 6 years she volunteered around the community, helped others recycle and reuse materials and separated her own waste to recycle, donate to the Sharing Center, send for upcycling at TerraCycle and take to the Reuse Center in West Melbourne.  This continued until 2017 when she opened an official location in Rockledge. She chose this location because she wanted something that was in her community. By opening up in Rockledge, she felt she was creating a convenient drop off location for all the Brevardians that lived too far from the Reuse Center to find it convenient to donate unwanted materials.

What is Recycle Brevard Anyway?

Recycle Brevard is a 501©3 Florida non-profit organization 100% run by volunteers that promotes and facilitates the practice of the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). Marcia has not only created a one-stop-shop for recycling, but she also provides educational information and spreads the message of environmental conservation and zero waste living through her website and social media presence. Recycle Brevard is focused on reducing waste and promoting sustainable living through advocacy, action, and education.

They offer free membership to their Recycling Club http://www.recyclebrevard.org/p/memberships.html to all public-school teachers in Brevard County. That gives teachers access to their Reuse Room. Teachers can also book educational programs for their students.

Recycle Brevard diverted more than 7,000lbs of waste in 2020 and will continue to help the community to divert thousands more from the landfill every year. Their mission statement says it all.

“To empower people, schools, and organizations to help preserve the environment and build, together, a healthy, harmonious, and stable community where there is no room for waste.”

Recycle Brevard

What do they take for Recycling and Reuse?

Here is the main question, what can you take here to divert it from the landfill? Really anything EXCEPT for TV’s, printers, monitors, keyboards, and any Hazardous Waste items or chemicals. The following items are accepted at Recycle Brevard:

  • Batteries (household and cell phone)
  • Electronics and Metals
    • No TV’s, Printers, Monitors, Keyboards, or chemicals please.
    • These can be taken to your local Household Hazardous Waste drop-off.
  • Reusable Materials for crafting
    • Glass, Plastic, Straws, Cutlery, Papers, Cartons, Markers, etc.
  • 6-pack Plastic Rings
  • Used or New Printer Ink Cartridges
    • If they are empty can be taken to Office Depot or Walmart, for example.
  • TerraCycle

What can be recycled through TerraCycle?

Let’s talk about what items can be recycled though TerraCycle. This is really where it starts getting interesting! There are quite a few things on this list, but I will highlight the main ones.

  • Stationary Items & Packaging including all brands of empty writing instruments, glue sticks, watercolor dispensers, paint sets, and flexible packaging.
  • Brita Water Brand Items including dispensers, bottles, filters of all sizes, packaging, faucet filtration systems, and pitchers.
  • Burt’s Bee’s Products including personal care, lip care, and beauty care packaging.
  • Colgate Oral Care including toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste cartons, Wisp mini-brushes, packaging, and floss containers.
    • Please note: Electric toothbrushes, battery toothbrushes, and/or their parts are NOT recyclable through the program.
  • Air Freshener Recycling including all brands of air freshener cartridges and plugs, packaging and flexible film packaging, and trigger heads.
  • Razors including all brands of blades and razors (systems and disposable units, and replaceable-blade cartridge units), rigid plastic packaging, and flexible plastic bag packaging.
  • Instrument Strings including clippings from any string instrument and any brand.
  • L.O.L. Surprise! Including all L.O.L. Surprise! packaging, accessories, and products.
  • Personal Care and Beauty including all skin care packaging such as lip balm tubes and caps, soap dispensers and tubes, body wash caps, lotion dispensers and caps; hair care packaging such as shampoo caps, conditioner caps, hair gel tubes, and caps, hair spray triggers, and hair paste caps; cosmetic packaging such as lipstick cases, lip gloss tubes, mascara tubes, eye shadow cases, bronzer cases, foundation packaging, powder cases, eyeliner cases, eyeliner pencils, eye shadow tubes, concealer tubes, concealer sticks, and lip liner pencils.
  • Food Storage Containers of all brands (plastic and glass).
  • Swiffer Pads including dry, wet, XL, WetJet, and Duster Refills.

You can find a full and extensive list of products that can be collected at http://www.recyclebrevard.org/p/terracycle-accepted-waste.html

What can you do to help?

As amazing as Marcia is, she can’t do this all on her own. She has many wonderful volunteers who help make the dream come true. Unfortunately, much of Recycle Brevard comes right out of Marcia’s pocket and due to COVID-19, she has been unable to host any fundraisers or other community events that usually help her to sustain this organization. Any donations are always appreciated and go directly back to help further extend the reach of education of this wonderful organization. They also help purchase recycling boxes to send off these many items for recycling.

Another easy way to help if you are a business would be to become a TerraCycle drop-off location for one or a few different items. You can even collect within your office! This is a great endeavor for any business because it costs nothing and is hassle free. It will also help build awareness to your business as we will advertise these drop off locations regularly and feature posts on Social Media showcasing your businesses environmental stewardship. Please contact Recycle Brevard or respond to this blog if you are interested in becoming a drop-off location in Brevard county.

Marcia is a woman who wanted to make a difference, so she decided to be the change. Recycle Brevard is a unique non-profit organization that prides itself of encouraging waste reduction in the home and in the community. Every town could use a place like Recycle Brevard, and every town could use a Marcia Booth! Recycle Brevard is a one stop drop-off location for recycling and reuse. You can collect many things that would normally go in the trash and keep them from being completely wasted resources that end up in our landfills. I hope this blog will encourage anyone in the Brevard County area to consider how they are impacting their landfill and their environment and aim to reduce, reuse and then lastly, recycle before throwing trash away.

Recycled DIY Gift Bows!

I absolutely love decorating my Zero-Waste gifts to make them look extra special. However, I do not want to go buy wrapping paper and gift bags that will just end up in the landfill.

“An estimated 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year, and about 2.3 million pounds ends its life in landfills.”

Gift wrap purchased at a store is made from paper that usually can’t be recycled. A lot of times it is infused with plastics or other materials that make it hardly recognizable as the paper it once was. Ribbons are just another plastic as well. They’re dyed and infused with glitters and inks. Each of these items can cost between 5-10$! You could end up spending more on the wrapping then the actual gift itself!

“According to an August report from Sundale Research, people in the U.S. spent a total of $12.7 billion on gift wrap, including wrapping paper, tissue paper and gift bags, in 2017.”

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to decorate a gift without using any excess paper, bags, or plastic ribbons. I have been creating Gift Bows out of recycled wrapping paper, newspaper, magazines, brown packaging paper and really anything that you can imagine! These are so much fun because you can make them easily without a whole lot. Everyone I give them to just LOVES them and many of my friends now make them for their gifts too! What better way to give a gift then by sending a message of zero-waste?

I love doing this because it is always a conversation starter when giving a gift wrapped in reuse items and repurposed paper bows. Create an impression when giving a gift that may leave the person thinking about how to be more sustainable in their own life. This is also such a fun way to add a personal touch and turn something stressful into something that makes you feel good! Whenever I can find a way to repurpose anything, I am a happy camper.

I start by finding a good scrap paper to work with. I love using maps or newspaper when wrapping gifts because there is usually always some laying around somewhere, but I also like to save any gift wrap that is given to me because it can be reused.  In this blog, I am going to show you ways to make that gift really pop with your very own recycled paper gift bows!

I really enjoy doing this as a craft after Christmas. I like to take the excess wrapping paper I was able to save from any gifts I got and make as many bows as possible. Then I will find an old box to put them all in so they don’t get crushed and can be stored until next year. This way, next year for Christmas I will be prepared in advance with bows for gifts made of wrapping paper from last year’s waste. This hack will save you money and makes a great impact on others around you.

To get started, you will need the following:

  • Scissors
  • A stapler, glue, or tape (I prefer to use a stapler)
  • A hot glue gun
  • A piece of paper that is at least 7 inches wide and 10.5 inches tall.

Step 1: Cut Pieces

Begin by measuring out increments that are ¾ of an inch wide, you will need 9 strips total.

3 strips | 10.5” x ¾”

3 strips | 9.5” x ¾”

2 strips | 8.5” x ¾”

1 strip | 3.5” x ¾”

Step 2: Looping strips

Next, start with your larger strips. You will want to loop them at both ends in a figure eight.

Step 3: Secure your Loops

Staple, tape, or glue the ends down to the base as seen here. Continue on with the rest of the strips except the one that is 3.5” in length. With that one you will simply make a circular loop for the very center of the bow.

Step 4: Put your pieces together!

Once you have the pieces twisted, you will need to start putting them together. First, take the 3 larger pieces and place them inside each other. You may need to play with them a bit to get the right look. They are all a little bit unique and I like to think that one is meant for the bottom and one is meant for the top.

I like to use a hot glue gun for this step to combine them. It is hard to connect them without crushing the edges of the bows if using a stapler for this part. Regular glue will also work it just may take longer to dry and I am impatient. You will also do this with the 3 pieces that are 9.5” and then with the 8.5” pieces.

Step 5: Combine Layers

Then, just put the pieces on top of each other to make your beautiful bow! Its really that easy.

Extra Tips!

You can also add extra strips that can be curled like ribbon, just make sure to be gentle with the paper because it tears easier than ribbon.

To curl the strips of paper you will just need a pair of scissors. Place the strip of paper between your thumb and the edge of the scissors as seen here and pull. Again, be sure not to put too much pressure on your thumb because the paper can tare easier.