Eco-Educator: Luiz Rodrigues’ ECOMB Makes Miamians Environmentally Aware

Title: Eco-Educator: Luiz Rodrigues’ ECOMB Makes Miamians Environmentally Aware
Author/Reporter: Sara Liss
Date: April, 2008

The beaches of South Florida are pristine, azure stretches of salty oceanic goodness. Locals sometimes take that postcard-perfect view for granted. We may not realize that there are dedicated individuals volunteering to esure that our oceans remain uncluttered, healthy and litter-free. Luiz Rodrigues, executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Coalition of Miami Beach, is one of those people. For seven years he has volunteered his time to organize monthly clean-ups of local beaches, waterways and Biscayne Bay islands.

“I was raised in Brazil, in the ocean. I’ve always had a connection to nature, a passion for the environment,” says Rodrigues. “The sad reality is that we sometimes love a place too much, that we love it to death. Here in Florida, everyone wants a piece of the beauty.”

Not content to simply tackle beach beauty, ECOMB has also set its sights on wider community involvement, organizing environmental educational seminars and eco-awareness events each year. Ever notice those biodegradable beach trash bags dispensers at the main access points of our beaches? Thank ECOMB for those, and pretty soon we’ll see recycling bins alongside traditional trash receptacles at various public hubs like Lincoln Road and Espanola Way. Networking is also a priority for ECOMB as they’ve organized parties like the monthly Integral event every third Thursday at the Standard Hotel and a weekly Green Party every Friday at the Catalina Hotel.

A self-described beach person, Rodrigues holds a degree in freshwater biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and also runs a for-profit company calle Eco-Logical Solutions.

“We basically ‘green’ a company or home. We’ve worked with cruise lines, private homes, and we look at all aspects of water and energy usage and make suggestions.”

In terms of Miami’s community activism, Rodrigues is the greenest “greenie.” The South of Fifth resident is an avid kayaker and cyclist, and serves on the Board for the Green Committee for the City of Miami Beach, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Sustainable Living Council and, more recently, the Green Committee for the City of Miami.

“Miami sets trends around the country in terms of fashion, so we have a great responsibility to show the world that we can do a lot more here,” he says. “We want to make Miami Beach an ‘emerald’ city by the sea. It’s about time.” ECOMB’s goals? “More green public spaces, better bike lanes, incentives for solar energy, habitat restoration, coral reef restoration. The list is pretty long,” he says with a laugh.