Landscape: Butt Out!

Yesterday was Green-Up Day in Vermont.

It was the 40th year in a row they’ve done this. Thousands of volunteers comb the state’s road sides, picking up litter that accumulated during the winter. It’s a great idea, and I’m glad the tradition lives on.

In today’s Burlington Free Press, Joel Banner Baird writes about the predominant form of litter, at least in Burlington: Cigarette butts.

I’ve noticed the same thing. OK smokers, fill me in. How is a discarded coffee cup litter and a cigarette butt not? I always find cigarette butts on the roadside by my house, too. They don’t make ash trays anymore?  Funny, I read on that they’re giving away free butt disposal packets that can easily fit in your pocket and don’t smell.

Or is there some smokers’ pact I don’t know about that says the butts must be thrown on to the sidewalk or street?

This is a pet peeve of mine, wo you can see where this rant is coming from. According to Baird’s article, butts are made of some plastic stuff that doesn’t degrade easily. So throwing a cigarette butt out into the ditch isn’t the same as throwing an apple core. The apple will turn into compost. The cigarette won’t.

According to the Supereco Web site, 4.3 trillion cigarette butts end up as litter each year. About 250 billion of those are in the United States.

Maybe this is a message you’re sending. Smoking has gotten less socially acceptable. Are you ticked off that people don’t want you to smoke, so you throw the butts at us as a protest?

The next time I see somebody flick a butt out their car window into my driveway, I will follow that car and carry with me a really, really smelly bag of rancid garbage. I will spread all that garbage inside every room of our cigarette butt thrower’s house.

You won’t mind, right? All that garbage will biodegrade eventually.

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