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042 Butting In 2009-02-06

cigarette butts

Cigarette butts, that is, and they are IN my front yard! So what’s the deal with that? I don’t understand why people don’t think of butts as litter. They are not littering they are flicking one butt out the window. The problem is that it is not just one, in Texas over 150 million are flicked each year (http://www.cigarettelitter.org/.) In Tennessee I see butts on sidewalks, parking lots, streets, paths, greenways, trails in the State Parks, and in my front yard. Sometimes it looks as if people aren’t flicking, instead they are dumping - the whole ash tray onto the road or parking lot. I am sorry folks but that is just insane.

Butts take two to five years to decompose; longer, naturally, in very dry and cold areas. The filter itself is on the cigarette to keep the nasty stuff (carcinogens) out of the smokers body. Littering the butt on the ground or road makes it possible for it to be ingested by birds, animals, or fish (once the filter makes it to the waterways.) If you didn’t know, cigarettes filters are not on any species preferred diet.

Some solutions...

Make it legal to shoot litterers - not all the solutions are socially acceptable ideas.

Have cigarette companies finance a campaign against littering.

Greener filters are being made, maybe the smokers could just eat the used filters.

Develop public awareness and enforcement responsibility. In Colorado I watched an elderly woman accost a young hiker for dropping his butt on the trail and extinguishing it. I don’t think he was going to pick it up, but he was more than willing to do so as the woman made him aware of his littering.

Charge the smokers a deposit on the cigarette butts. If we got righteous and charged a dollar a butt, then all the butts would be returned! If not, I would be more than happy to help collect them for a dollar each.

Lastly, recycle the butts and make clothes out of them. (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/recycled-cigarette-butts-fashion-alexandra-guerrero-mantis.php?daylife=1&dcitc=daylife-article ) This Chilean designer is actually making clothes out of the butts. Hopefully she will make a smoking jacket that can be worn after being intimate with one’s partner - a smoking jacket.

Maybe some of these solutions will help. In the meantime, please don’t be a litterbug, especially in my front yard!


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