I started out this morning as a reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat. I ended the work day as an "independent journalist."
At 8:45 I headed over to Marpan Recycling to work on a story about the state's goal of achieving 75 percent recycling by 2020. That was the goal spelled out earlier this year in a comprehensive state energy bill. And the goal is about three times as much as the state is recycling now.
At Marpan, they're recycling about two-thirds of the construction waste that comes in. Concrete, metal, cardboard and wood are the main products that are sold to recyclers along with mulch.
Marpan's Kim Williams said the state could boost recycling if people purchased more products from recycled materials to boost markets. Starting in January, all construction waste now going to Leon County's landfill will go through Marpan first for recycling.
Upon heading into the office shortly after 10, I was called into the office of Executive Editor Bob Gabordi. I knew what was coming, especially when I saw Managing Editor Africa Price there.
I was being laid off, Bob explained, and he asked if I had any questions. I could have responded more politely but frankly I was annoyed. My job had already been changed three times this year, and now I was being put out of work. But we shook hands, they offered to help me and I offered to help them in the future. There was a modest severance package.
Then I went home. I checked my e-mails. I returned a few phone calls. And I didn't know what to do next.
So I ate my lunch and went to work.
I went to the same state hearing that I had been planning on going to. But now I wasn't a Tallahassee Democrat reporter.
It was interesting to hear Ron Henricks of DEP explain that the state could reach about 50 percent recycling just by changing the way the process is counted. We could add 10 percent in construction waste that's not now counted, throw in another 11 percent for "waste-to-energy" which is burning to produce electricity, and perhaps another 4 percent by counting the use of landfill gas.
About 100 people attended, many of them from county recycling programs. Speakers chimed in with ideas about how the state could better educate residents to recycle or how it needs to create new markets for recyclable materials.
It seemed like news to me, but I was the only reporter there to cover it. And I wasn't even a newspaper reporter any more. Perhaps the other media were at the Environmental Regulation Commission meeting across town, where an important vote was scheduled on whether to adopt California's auto emissions standards. Or maybe they were not there either.
Earlier this year I would have covered the ERC instead. But my environmental reporting job got axed on Aug. 1 and I was reassigned to cover Leon County. Since recycling is inherently local, I figured I could at least cover the interesting concept of recycling 75 percent of our waste.
In this age of change, I feel certain there is a place for me to report on the important issues in Florida's Capital. Maybe I'll become a blogger, combined with some freelancing, combined with being on welfare. The reality hasn't really set in yet.
All I know is that today ended a lot differently than it started -- at least for me. And I think I'm OK with that.