Did you know that storm sewers lead directly to local waterways? Now, visualize what happens during a storm every time you walk past a littered storm sewer.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, cigarette litter is the number one item found during marine clean ups. In fact, estimates suggest that globally, “1.69 BILLION pounds of butts wind up as toxic trash each year” equating to as many as “4.95 trillion” butts. Certainly at a local level, cigarette litter is unsightly and a nuisance, but it also poses an environmental threat.
Likely due to fire risk, the natural inclination is to drop a cigarette button the ground and step on it to extinguish or to put it out in the sand at the beach. However, the cost to hire someone to pick up all those butts can be significant, and the bill goes to all of us.
With a lifespan of about 25 years before a cigarette butt is fully decomposed–incorrectly disposed of cigarette butts can cause a lot of damage — to wildlife, fish, your dog, or even small children. They can also be a fire hazard. Besides, who wants toxic waste (benzene, heavy metals, nicotine) in the water we swim, boat and fish in?
The Butt Blitz is a high impact, one-day opportunity to get out and make a difference. Last year in Barrie, a handful of volunteers collected 7,475 butts— we can definitely do better in 2017, especially with the support and participation of downtown Barrie businesses.
Long term, the most effective way to attack the problem is to stop the butt drop at the source. There are ways to recycle discarded cigarette butts and that’s where the Terracycle Cigarette Recycling Container comes in. The process is as follows: buy it, install it, use it, empty it and send contents for recycling. No butts on the ground.
Downtown Barrie’s ZuZu Fashion Boutique has the first one on the block and it’s getting traction, but it’s only one and we need more to really impact the issue. Read more about ZuZu’s Butt Collector here, and learn more about Terracycle campaigns in other Canadian cities here. Contact ZuZu shop owner Tracey Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Litter collected both through the ZuZu Terracycle container, and during the Butt Blitz is composted, and recycled into plastic. Now with Barrie downtown businesses –and hopefully others–on board, 2017 should be the biggest Butt Blitz yet!