My son and I were out on Saturday picking up garbage for the upcoming cleanup week in Homer. We covered both sides of Ben Walters Street. While picking up bottles, cans and papers that were tossed out car windows, nothing bothered me more than the cigarette butts on the side of the road. I have a hard time dealing with the concept of smokers’ lack of respect for the environment and this beautiful place we live by dropping their butts anywhere they please. I must have picked up 350 butts in that eight-block area.
So I did some research on “cigarette butts.” They are the most commonly discarded piece of waste worldwide. It is estimated that 1.69 billion pounds of butts wind up as toxic trash each year, creating an enormous environmental, health and economic burden. I find that disgusting and, even worse, is, contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable.
Cigarette butt waste is a huge environmental issue, with a global impact — it is both unsightly and unhealthy and butts can be ingested by fish, birds, whales and other marine animals.
I have an idea for you smokers out there: Do not toss it on the ground — please. Take the butt with you and dispose of it properly where you live.
The City of Vancouver launched a cigarette butt recycling program where they set up 110 cigarette recycling receptacles on several blocks in the downtown area. The cellulose acetate from the filters is being used in the production of industrial products such as shipping pallets and tobacco extracted from the butts will be composted. I am not suggesting we do anything like this, but this seems like the global trend these days.
I think it’s time for change. It’s simple: If you want to smoke, respect the environment and pick up after yourself.