By Stacia Brenzinski
Some people like butts– rappers, the Charmin bear, and talc miners, for instance.
But in my experience, no one likes cigarette butts. Butts are the most littered item in the world– in the WORLD. Billions of butts are flicked onto the ground every year, and then forgotten about; howeverrr although they’re out of our hands, they haven’t disappeared. Oh, no no…
Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate; that’s plastic, ya’ll. The compound is technically biodegradable, but only under “severe biological conditions,” like a volcano, I assume. Butts on the ground, (lookin like a fool with your butts on tha ground), just break down into smaller bits of plastic, which scurry into the soil and mosey on up the roots of plants, or get washed into rivers and the ocean.
Butts, which have trapped the thousands of toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke, make any animals who consume them sick.
1 to 5 cigarettes contain the minimum lethal dose of nicotine for a dog or cat.
Ingestion is most common in young animals, (i.e., puppies and kittens, i.e., basically why I use the internet). Our less furry friends are hurting, too. A study found that one cigarette butt soaked in a litter of water killed half of the fish in the tank.
The most important thing we can do is not litter butts.
Throw them away, or put them back in the pack, or take them home and make scummy hipster art with them– anywhere but the ground!
The second thing we can do is pick them up.
It sounds gross and random, but the option exists, and it’s not that hard. Just get a bottle, a glove and some high-waisted pants, (you will be bending down quite a bit), and go grab butts.
They’re everywhere. Combine it with a beach day or a trip to the farmers market. Do it while you’re waiting for your friend, who’s taking forever because she can’t find her phone, (it’s in her bag; just tell her to dig deeper). A cleanup doesn’t have to be an event. It could be though! What better way to teach your younger, (or older), siblings about environmental responsibility and taking initiative than a family butt cleanup followed by frozen novelty treats at a funky local ice cream stand?
Butts are ugly, poisonous, and expensive to clean up when the pros do it, so why are there so many on the ground? Are we so desensitized to the presence of tobacco in our community that we simply don’t notice or don’t care about the litter? Do we assume that butts will biodegrade and accept them as part of the landscape? Maybe we feel that the filters give the ground a sort of mottled, artsy character like confetti or sprinkles on ice cream.
Whatever the reason, the litter in our streets, parks, and sidewalks is unacceptable, and there are things that all of us, smokers and nonsmokers, can do to clean up our communities and make them safer, healthier, nicer-looking places to live, visit, and roll through while bumping hot jams about big butts.