It’s hard to believe all the giant pink snails still scattered across Miami Beach will disappear by the end of the day, but that is what’s supposed to happen. The mollusks may be happy to move on from the Magic City, having suffered a bit of abuse during their 46-day stay, which was meant to spark “a community-wide conversation about the importance of recycling and its environmental impact.” Not sure if that happened. Anecdotally, most of my snail-centric conversations have centered on whether climbing aboard the snails’ necks for a photo-op was an arrestable offense (but I run in an off-green circle). In any event, today is apparently your last day to marvel at the snails before they hurry off (uncharacteristically), although I have heard rumor of at least one businessman inquiring into purchasing a snail to sit in his storefront window. Miami being Miami, it will probably end up the mascot of a tanning salon.
Most aspects of my life have improved since I moved to Miami Beach over the summer. I’m nearer the ocean and a lovely public park, surrounded by good eateries and gawk-worthy women, and able to walk or ride my bike to most everywhere I want to go locally. The one downside to life on the Beach, however, is the difficulty of recycling, the most basic act of environmentalism.
Yes, there are recycling bins scattered across the city, but not enough. And in this age of heightened eco-conscientiousness, an ad-hoc drop-off system is hardly sufficient. Worse, it’s an embarrassment to a community that is so young and supposedly progressive as Miami Beach.
The condo I live in does not recycle — as a building with more than eight units, the city does not require it to. So every week, my plastics and other recyclables pile up in a bin under my sink until I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes I thrust them upon a visiting friend who lives in a part of Miami that does recycle. Sometimes I drive them to a drop-off spot. On occasion I’ve even stuffed them into a stranger’s recycling bin, an act of enviro-crime that makes me feel green in a bad way.
I realize the deficiency of Miami Beach’s recycling program has been covered in the past (see HERE, for example). But with the recent invasion of the Giant Pink Snails, which are made of recycled material and “designed to inspire a community-wide conversation about the importance of recycling and its environmental impact”, I figured this is the perfect time to enter the fray.
The timing is also good because of the opening last week of a “one-stop shop recycling drop-off station” at 210 Second Street and Collins Court (the alley between Washington and Collins). The result of the persistence and sweat of the Environmental Coalition of Miami Beach (ECOMB), the recycling center accepts all single-stream recyclables (glass, plastic, metal, paper, cardboard, magazines, junk mail, phone books, etc.) as well as all types of electronic waste, batteries, and compact fluorescent light bulbs.
“This is a major step,” Luiz Rodrigues, ECOMB’s indefatigable executive director, told me over the phone today.