Student recycling activist raises the bar in Miami Beach

Newspaper: MiamiHerald
Title: Student recycling activist raises the bar in Miami Beach
Author/Reporter: Debra K. Leibowitz
Date: 5/7/09
Article: South Beach resident Neha Patel (pronounced ”Nay-Ha”) saw a strong need for increased recycling in Miami Beach — and the 24-year-old decided to do something about it.

Patel, a third-year student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, received a $1,000 grant from Hands on Miami’s Starbucks Youth Philanthropy Committee ( to create a pilot recycling program for local bars.

”Living on Miami Beach, I was appalled to see that recycling was not a part of the culture,” said Patel, an Acadia native who moved to the Beach from Miami a year ago.

“And the most effective way to make a difference was to target bars, because they generate the highest percentage of bottles and cans.”

Dubbed ”Raise the Bar,” Patel’s project is a joint collaboration between World Waste Services (WWS) and the Environmental Coalition of Miami Beach ( Patel has volunteered with the nonprofit ECOMB for the past six months.

The program kicked off April 22 (Earth Day) at four South Beach bars: Abraxas Lounge, Purdy Lounge, The Catalina and Waxy O’Connor’s Irish Pub. Grant funds were used to provide each bar two complimentary recycling bins for their bar area, plus an added incentive: 10 cents per can or bottle up to $100. WWS donated a 96-gallon outdoor recycling bin to each bar — plus free recycle pick-up through June 30 (a $500 value per bar).

”We want to show bars that it’s easy to recycle, economic to recycle and that it’s a benefit for the community,” says Patel.

In the program’s first two weeks, Patel says over 6,500 bottles and cans have been recycled.

”This is just the beginning. If recycling gains momentum across the Beach, the potential is staggering,” she said.

To learn more, contact Patel at 786-385-8785 or via e-mail at [email protected].


The third annual ”Parents Hunt for Art,” hosted by the Surfside Business Association, is underway through Saturday at businesses along Harding Avenue between 94th and 96th Streets.

Area businesses are displaying approximately 175 pieces of watercolor art created by students (grades first through fifth) at Ruth K. Broad-Bay Harbor K-8 Center, under the supervision of art teacher Maggie Vidal-Santos.

Parents are invited to hunt the Surfside district in search of their child’s masterpiece(s). Businesses are providing coupon books with discounts at local stores and restaurants, as well as entry forms for a raffle featuring prizes from Surfside vendors. Raffle winners will be announced via closed-circuit television from the school next week.

”The goal of the program is to motivate young children to take pride in what they are doing and to see their art being displayed in public places,” says its creator Eli Tourgeman, president of the Surfside Business Association (and former mayor of Surfside).

“The program has been very successful because it motivates the parents and the children – and is well- received by the Surfside business district.”


The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce will host its 87th annual Gala and Silent Auction this Saturday at Fontainebleau Resort, 4441 Collins Ave.

Honorees for the evening are NBA champ/philanthropist Alonzo Mourning, and his wife Tracy Wilson Mourning, founder of the Honey Shine Mentoring Program, who will receive the Jan Pfeiffer Distinguished Service Award; Jeffrey Soffer, executive chairman of Fontainebleau Resorts, who will be named Corporate Citizen of the Year and Steven Haas, G.M./co-owner of Soyka Restaurant (and incoming chairman of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau), who will receive the Leonard ”Doc” Baker Lifetime Achievement Award.