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ECOMB is the spirit of giving

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The holidays are a time of celebration of life and quality thereof. It’s also a time of sharing and giving. Donations are typically associated with the holidays, but not all benefit the giver as well. This one will. Some call it the quality of your environment; I call it ECOMB.

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ECOMB is an environmental education nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting sustainable living practices, fostering environmental stewardship and preserving our community’s ecology.

I had a chance to speak with Luiz Rodrigues (Exec Director), Jeff Forster (Board President) and Gabriole Van Bryce (Board Director) regarding ECOMB’s contribution to Miami and the Beaches.

Both Ms. Van Bryce and Mr. Forster mentioned donations can be made year-round on the ECOMB website. Mr. Forster pointed out this is a wonderful end-of-year tax write-off for both corporations and tax-paying citizens. Also Mr. Forster mentioned plans to launch an end-of-year party at a residence on Star Island. “In the spirit of the holidays, it’s a wonderful way to get people involved.”

Naturally, beach and island clean-ups are on hold for the holidays, but to begin again the first week of January 2014. That means if you’re strapped for cash, you can always donate your time; and it’s a wonderful way to support your environment. Again, this is your city; a rather unique city where 100s of thousands leave trash and your help and support is always greatly appreciated. Your reward is a day in the sun, a cleaner beach, a networking/bonding experience, a tax write-off and a job well done.

It’s interesting to note that many city improvements and initiatives adopted by the City of Miami Beach are due in part to ECOMB’s effort to create a more sustainable City of Miami Beach. Here are some of them:

City of Miami Beach Initiatives inspired by ECOMB’s Plan for a Sustainable Miami Beach:

  • Installed over 100 recycling containers in public rights of way and beach entrances
  • Launched the ADOPT-A-BEACH Pilot Program in partnership with ECOMB
  • Implemented a city-wide, single stream recycling program; increasing recycling rates three-fold
  • Created an Alternative Fuel Vehicles Parking Permit, effective city wide for only $100 per year
  • Contracted the services of DECOBIKE who installed over 100 bicycle sharing stations in Miami Beach: one of the largest bike sharing programs in the U.S.
  • Contracted the services of the HERTZ on Demand, a city wide car sharing program
  • Set aside 2% of two parking garages parking spaces for Alternative Fuel Vehicles
  • Adopted voluntary LEED building ordinance with green building incentives
  • Installed 4 electric car charging stations
  • Established the City’s Sustainability Committee

And here is a sample of ECOMB’s most recent achievements:

  • Diverted over 2,300 batteries and 100 CFLs from landfills, thus preventing potential contamination of our soil & groundwater supplies
  • Collected almost 2.5 tons of electronic waste, allowing for the reuse and/or recycling of valuable materials
  • Provided for hundreds of pick-ups of recyclables from ECOMB’s new Single Stream Recycling Drop-Off Station: the first of its kind in the City of Miami Beach.
  • Collected over 6,000 lbs. of litter from our beaches, waterways, parks and Biscayne Bay Islands
  • Produced and hosted the successful Third Annual Miami & the Beaches Environmental Film Festival to rave reviews
  • Screened 30 cutting-edge environmental documentaries to various demographics thus initiating thought and discussion about a variety of pressing environmental issues of local and global concern
  • Collaborated with the City of Miami Beach to implement the Adopt-a-Beach Program, which consists of 37 local businesses and civic organizations
  • Developed a strategic campaign, in partnership with other local non-profits, which convinced City officials to enforce the existing beach litter ordinance: several police officers are now enforcing the litter laws.

ECOMB’s Goals for the Next Five Years

  • Renovate and expand its Miami Beach Center for the Environment (MBCE)
  • Implement educational seminars on energy & water conservation, waste prevention/recycling, sea-level rise and climate change resiliency at their MBCE
  • Collaborate in implementing the Flagler Monument Island Park Master Plan
  • Expand the Raising the Bar Recycling program to 40 new bars/restaurants/night clubs in Miami Beach
  • Increase eWaste drop off rate at ECOMB’s recycling center from present volume of 2.5 ton/year to 5 tons/year
  • Reduce the 8,360 lbs. of litter collected from our beaches in 2014 by 50%
  • Convert 50% of beach litter bins in South Beach (South Pointe to 23rd St) into recycling bins
  • Establish the Miami Beach Green Purchasing Co-Op
  • Identify funding and initiate the restoration of the South of Fifth Near Shore Coral Reef

I want to leave you with a comment from Gabriole Van Bryce. “Over the years, ECOMB has provided invaluable services to our community in ways that other organizations simply cannot match. ECOMB’s long history of achievements, along with the diversity, scope and scale of its programs, provides environmental education that truly fosters community stewardship and long-term sustainability. ECOMB is definitely spreading the word.”

I agree guys and gals. Happy holidays.



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