At last, finally, finalmente the snow is melting! Yeah! But the down side is seeing the number of cigarette butts that have been hidden under the snow and ice for all these months – 5 months or so, anyway! It got me thinking about how many butts there are on every street here in Peterborough and if there are this many here, well, how many are there being stubbed out on pavements (sorry, sidewalks!) all over the world.
A quick look on Google and the statistics are horrifying – 4.5 TRILLION, that is right, 4.5 TRILLION cigarette butts become rubbish (sorry, garbage!) every single year! Can you believe that? Being a non-smoker this has really shocked me but I think the numbers would shock even the most-hardened of smokers.
Cigarette butts are the most common piece of litter in the world! It is estimated that about 1 BILLION kgs of butts end up as toxic rubbish each year, Yet more horrifying is that cigarette butts are NOT biodegradable! They are made of cellulose acetate which is a form of plastic and can persist in the environment for up to 10 years. I have to say I didn’t know that and I suspect that many others, smokers and non-smokers don’t know that either. Cigarette butts get washed into our rivers, lakes and oceans. They leach toxins into the water and kill or injure various forms of wildlife. The plastic parts of cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales, turtles and other marine creatures who mistake them for food.
Another scary fact is that fires caused by cigarette butts claim the lives of about 1,000 people and injure about 3,000 people each year. Unbelievable and terrifying!
Not to mention the cost of cleaning up all of these butts – in the US, estimates range from $3 million to $13million each year in major cities. That adds up to a lot of money – imagine what else it could be spent on, education, housing, hospitals to name a few, if we didn’t have to spend it on cleaning up the cigarette butts!
So, to all the smokers out there, please think carefulyl about what you do with your butt! I will be the person out there cleaning up after you if you don’t do the right thing! I wish I didn’t have to be!