Flicked out of car windows, stomped out on sidewalks and strewn about our parks and beaches — several trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide each year. If you smoke, there's a new reason to quit. Butt out for the planet.
Often overshadowed by the more annoying side effect of smoking — second-hand fumes — cigarette butt litter receives little attention until this time of year.
It's September and that means the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is well underway! Did you know that in 2009, Canadians picked up more than 367,000 cigarette butts during this annual event? Cigarette butts made one of the top five litter items list, next to plastic bags, food wrappers, caps and lids, and cutlery and dishes.
Litter in general has obvious negative impacts on the environment and cigarette butts are no exception. They've been discovered in the stomachs of sea turtles, birds and dolphins, and they do not biodegrade.
And I'm not just another cranky non-smoker, even Philip Morris USA, the largest producer of cigarettes recognizes that cigarette butt litter is a huge contributor to garbage in our environment. They plan on "educating smokers that cigarettes are litter that should be disposed of properly."
But is more education the real missing link? Why do we litter at all? Is it a lack of respect, laziness, or some anti-conformist attitude?
I'm not here to beg you to quit. Just put trash in the trash, including cigarette butts. It's that simple. As for non-smokers (about 81 per cent of the Canadian population) you're not off the hook. I bet you walk by litter many times each day. It's time to stop passing the buck. Fight that whiny voice in your head that's saying "I didn't put it there!" or "It's not mine!" That attitude gets us nowhere. Last time I checked there's one planet and you're on it!
Smoker or not, join your fellow Canadians and head down to a local shoreline this week. Picking up litter is a really easy step to a healthier planet — take the family, or grab your co-workers. Check out the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and join a cleanup near you between now and this Sunday, September 26th!
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green