I needed to catch up on my resolution to pick up at least 5 pieces of trash a day, so I decided to use yesterday's GORGEOUS WEATHER as an excuse to make up for lost time. Trash bag in hand, I made my way up and down my side of my block for about an hour and a half picking up litter. I mean, I knew there was an excessive amount of trash on my block, but I had no idea there could be so much. The most common thing I found was discarded cigarette butts. The most uncommon thing I found was a bio-hazard bag (ugh. . . I didn't realize what it was until I'd grabbed it by one of its corners. . . mental note, wear gloves next time I help clean up my block).
I am ecstatic that DC has gone smoke free in its bars and restaurants (I've got my fingers crossed that we'll go trans-fat free, too, soon, but that's a different story). But with the smoking ban in effect, restaurants and bars are going to have to be vigilant in accommodating and taking responsibility for their smoking patrons. By far, the highest concentration of cigarette butts I picked up was in front of a restaurant, and I noticed no cigarette receptacle by the restaurant's front door.
That's not to say that I didn't find a hell of a lot of cigarette and cigar butts on the rest of the block. Smokers need to be much more responsible, too: cigarette butts ARE trash and should be discarded as such rather than thrown on the ground or in a tree bed. Here are a few annoying facts about cigarette butts that are worth stressing:
1. Cigarettes are the most littered item in America and the world. Source
2. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable in the sense that most people think of the word. The acetate (plastic) filters can take many years to decompose. Smokers may not realize that their actions have such a lasting, negative impact on the environment. Source.
3. "[Cigarette butts] also present a threat to wildlife. Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures who mistake them for food ... Composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, cigarette butts can persist in the environment as long as other forms of plastic."
Clean Virginia Waterways.
4. They pose a fire hazard. The most common cause of fire related deaths and injuries in the U.S. is careless smoking. While the majority of these cases involve indoor smoking, many of these fires are the result of littered cigarettes, whether tossed out of a car or thrown on the ground by pedestrians. Source.
PHOTO CREDIT: PR Web, available