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PHOTO BY FRANCISO AGUILA

Innovators: Monica and Rafael Garrido THE CREATIVE SOLUTION TO WASTED FOOD – AND SLIM WALLETS

If necessity is the mother of invention, the Lovvett app is one of its children. Invented by a Gables husband-and-wife team, the app solves that perennial question we all ask about restaurants: What do they do with the food that isn’t sold? This is no idle query, with an estimated 30 to 40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. going to waste. Restaurants are one of the main culprits, so Monica and Rafael Garrido came up with a solution: At the end of each day, before that unsold food heads for the trash, why not sell it at a discount to potential customers? Launched last year during the pandemic, the Garridos’ Lovvett app alerts users to last-minute deals which “helps save the planet,” says Monica, as well as money for users. “We were raised in Spain and France, and everything [served] had to be consumed,” she says. “Anything left over would be donated.” With Rafael’s background in IT, and Monica’s in marketing, their Lovvett app now serves more than 155 restaurants, including Clutch Burger, Rodilla and Aromas del Peru here in the Gables. Example: A 305 Burger with fries and soda normally costs $20 at Clutch. At the end of the day, it’s just $9.99 on Lovvett. Bon appétit! ■ - J.P. Faber

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On the recycling front alone, Coral Gables is a model of cutting-edge practices. The city’s hazardous waste collection drives – in which residents can dispose of anything from obsolete electronic gear to noxious chemicals (old paint!) at city hall – have become popular bi-annual events. “Over the past six years we have collected 290,000 pounds of hazardous waste that would have ended up in a trash dump or in our environment,” says the city’s Senior Sustainability Analyst Matt Anderson. Likewise, the city was the first in Miami-Dade County with a prescription drug disposal program, which has collected 1,200 pounds of drugs to date. These are collected and then escorted by the police to be incinerated, rather than end up in the water supply. In a similar vein, the city has been experimenting with a variety of ways to reduce pollution in the Coral Gables Waterway. In February it passed a fertilizer restriction ordinance to reduce nutrients leaching into the waterway; it is also now testing filter baskets in the city’s storm drains and “smart sponges” that capture hydrocarbons from rainwater sloshing off city streets. For Anderson, nothing is more emblematic of the city’s sustainability efforts than its 65 electric vehicles. “We have been at the forefront on this since 2016, when we started electrifying our fleet,” he says. “With 12 percent [now electric], that puts us at the forefront not only in the state, but in the country.” Anderson says the city’s use of electricity as a cleaner source of energy is meant to encourage residents to follow suit, with 23 free charging stations now in the city. “I have received calls from residents who bought electric for their personal vehicles because of what the city is doing, including the charging stations,” he says. “The city likes to lead by example.”

ALSO BRICK & MORTAR If you ask Nelson Gonzalez, the city’s assistant IT director, what the most important thing the new Public Safety Building provides – which the old headquarters for police, fire, emergency and IT did not have – he will answer with one word: Reliability. “We support all operations, from 911 to finance, and in this new facility we have better protection,” he says. That means a building designed to withstand Armageddon-strength hurricanes, with two massive diesel back-up generators, each of which can power the complex during outages so that no systems fail. The idea that innovative technology also depends on brick and mortar is a critical leg of Igesias’ plan to take the city into the future. “You have to have the technology – the software and hardware – [but] you have to have the infrastructure, the space,” he says. For this the city has launched a substantial building program, which really began with the Streetscape project to modernize Miracle Mile. This was followed by the new Public Safety Building, Fire Station No. 2 (with a backup communications center) and the new Trolley Building (ready to charge tomorrow’s fleet of electric vehicles). Still to come are the 427 Biltmore Way building to house the paperless building and permit departments, Parking Garage No. 7 (capable of connecting to Public Safety for disaster parking), Fire Station No. 4 and finally, the Mobility Hub, a visionary replacement for Parking Garage No. 1 (behind the Miracle Theatre), ready to handle everything from autonomous vehicles to drones. With a goal of embedding innovation into private commercial buildings, the city now requires that all future structures larger than 20,000 square feet be built to the LEED Silver standards, which requires energy and water efficiency, safe materials, indoor environment quality and other measures of health and sustainability. “A lot coralgablesmagazine.com

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