The UK fixed penalty fine for a littered cigarette butt is £75. It seems many people are taking their chance when around 200 million cigarettes are discarded daily in the UK alone.
Cigarette litter accounts for one in every five items collected on clean ups across the world ranking it number 1 on the most littered items list. Because of that, we really need to wonder, why is it happening and what can we do to stop cigarette litter completely.
Whether you smoke or not, nobody really enjoys cigarettes. Otherwise, we would probably take the time to put them in the ashtrays of our cars rather than throwing them out the window while driving or maybe we would place them in our pockets until we reach the next bin so that we can dispose of them properly. But why would we want to do that when we know they would ruin our clothes or make our clean cars smell bad? It makes more sense to throw them on the floor and make them somebody else’s problem doesn’t it?
Cigarette litter is a huge threat to the environment; not just in terms of wildlife mistaking the butts for food and dying but also because cigarettes which have not been properly put out are the result of thousands of forests fires every year which are putting people, animals, livelihoods and everything in its path in serious danger.
The average cigarette weighs around 1 gram, that means the finished end weighs no more than .2 of a gram; when you consider this fact, it’s hardly surprising to think that billions of cigarette butts are making their way into our oceans, stream and rivers. This isn’t good for our health when you consider those toxins are coming through the taps we turn on. To think you tell your children the dangers of smoking when really they could be drinking the toxins every time we turn the tap on is rather worrying.
There needs to be a serious change in the way we see cigarette litter. Clearly a £75 fine is not enough as people are still taking the chance daily as they know the probability of being cause is low.
While governments propose tax increase to help cure the cost of cleaning up litter, here are some effective initiatives that have been put in place to reduce cigarette litter which I think are more sustainable;
Cigarette pit falls
Here, one company has started promoting cigarette reduction by creating bins which people and companies can place bins in common littered areas where people passing can throw their cigarettes? Seems ideal! You can still throw your cigarettes on the floor, but you are actually throwing them to be recycled rather than harming the environment, and you don’t even have to go out of your way!
Rewarding people who collect cigarette litter
Would you be likely to give up some of your time if you could receive money for picking up littered cigarette ends? Many people across the world do this for free because they have a passion for outdoors and would like future generations to have the chance to see the outdoors like we can but other people would prefer a physical reward for their time.
That’s why Wellington City councillers in New Zealand introduced a scheme where people can collect littered cigarette butts, take them to a place to be weighed where they will cashed in people to do as they wish with their earnings.
From what I have read here, the scheme came about to reduce the amount of beggars in the inner city which seems quite unethical as it is a way of brushing a serious problem under the carpet. Saying that, I still like the concept and believe that corporations as well as other governments allowing this could create similar schemes to encourage a reduction in cigarette litter.
Cigarette poll bins
Now this is my personal favourite. One clever company, BallotBin, have creatively made bins which have been designed as polls where people vote by placing their discarded cigarette butts. For me, I think this is a very clever of not only getting people to see the amount of cigarette butts that are discarded but it is also a clever way of stopping people to actually finish their cigarette and dispose of the butt in a fun way; hopefully next time that person who needs to discard their cigarette butt will do so correctly.
This week I have not created any particular item from cigarette butts however I have been in contact with my local MP who forwarded my message on to the Director of Environment and Leisure in my local town of Blackburn with Darwen; it is my aim to create bins that will promote cigarette litter by also asking people questions where people vote with their cigarette butts; I will intend to make these bins from littered aluminium cans rather than using new materials. I don’t want to make these though until I have places where I know they will be put to use; the director told me via e-mail that they will discuss my plans with the recycling officer and come back to me shortly so I look forward to that.
Anyway, the next time you go to throw your butt on the floor, take 30 seconds to walk to the bin because chances are, there will be one close by.
Week 5 – Aluminium