One thousand less cigarette butts; now our soils, waterways, fish and wildlife will be just a little bit less toxic! Early December, I captured 1000 of these toxic litter bits in my neighborhood in 1 ½ hours, one gallon of butts including six cigarette packages and eight cigar tips. Those butts were generally scattered absolutely everywhere, but at times I did run across clean stretches. No doubt we have some wonderful picker uppers out there already – Many Thanks! And thanks to the person who honked, I’m assuming you were showing your appreciation for my pick-up efforts or my derriere, either way – Thanks!
Four and one half trillion cigarette butts are thrown away every year world-wide, most simply tossed on the ground, our most pervasive litter. Those butts not only diminish the beauty of our town, the toxic accumulation leaches into our soils and waterways poisoning our food chain. A more immediate health threat, they are also mistaken for food by fish, wildlife, pets and even small children. I’m guessing we might have more than our share given Missouri’s horrendously low tax rate of 17 cents per pack, the lowest in the nation. Those butts are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic slow to biodegrade with a filter designed to absorb vapors and chemicals; certainly not something good to have lying around absolutely everywhere!
Here is what I’m thinking; my route only covered around two-thirds of a mile, both sides of the road. We need to all work on this together!
If you want to join the “Cigarette Butt Bust” –
-Grab a small bag and a pair of tight fitting gloves (don’t touch those toxic butts).
-While picking up just focus on your mission – 1000 cigarette butts – Don’t let the bulk and weight of all the other litter distract you. You can grab that later. No need to count the butts, one gallon of butts is your visual target.
-Every 100 butts or so, stand up straight and stretch leaning backwards.
-Be aware of traffic – It’s easy to lose track of your footings while in a dizzy stupor repeatedly bending over.
-Don’t pick up right after you eat a huge bowl of oatmeal, learn from my mistake.
-For those driving by, express your appreciation or maybe stop and help.
-Consider tackling this challenge in increments, my upper leg muscles were sore for days.
-If you have a bad back, grab a kid to pick up with you, or train your dog. For an easier pick up, focus on areas of concentration utilizing a long handled dustpan and broom to sweep up. There are ample toxic piles gracing our streets, parks and parking lots.
-For a larger impact, consider forming a group to tackle larger areas and/or shout out challengers to your friends, neighbors, and city leaders to do the same on your local radio. I’m certainly putting the challenge out community-wide via e-mails, the local newspaper and radio. I plan to announce our results at our Sixth Annual Pick-Up Boonville event March 19, 2016!
– As for smokers, quit flicking those butts! Better yet, quit smoking!
I realize, for many of you, it’s a bit cold out there but warmer days do show up randomly. So go ahead and pick your spot and get started now, or put it on your To Do List. Exercise while contributing to your community! You might choose to pick up along a busy roadway, along your street, walking route, work or church parking lot, or concentrate on one of your local parks or downtown. Wherever you go, no doubt, you will quickly capture 1000 butts. Then challenge someone else to do the same. Many, many thanks in advance! Let’s have a great “Cigarette Butt Bust”!