When I picked this title, I wanted something that would grab Al (my ex-husband)’s attention and the attention of everyone who knows him. I think the content will also be of interest to others who read my blog.
When Amma’s Seattle satsang began the PNW Litter Project in 2011, we focused on general litter pick up. Before long, King County Parks Department hired us to pick up cigarette butts in various county parks. At the time the Parks Department was doing research to determine how big a problem cigarette butts were.
The Seattle arm of the Pacific Northwest project kept the cigarette butt focus even after our “job” with the county was over. Cigarette butts are way more toxic than you might think. They are NOT made of cotton, they are made of cellulose acetate tow, which is a form of plastic, and they can take decades to degrade. Investigators in a San Diego State University study once discovered that if you put fathead minnows and top smelt in a liter of water that also contains a single cigarette butt, half of the fish will die.
Our group still does a yearly cigarette butt pick up in the international district in Seattle. Any butts we collect are sent to TerraCycle to be recycled into plastic pallets and other plastic products. Sending them to TerraCycle keeps the butts out of the landfill and the water. It also keeps them out of the stomachs of birds, fish and other animals. Our group has sent 341,224 cigarette butts to TerraCycle.
Al has been part of the Litter Project since it began. In the early days, he and I would meet near his International District apartment and pick up litter on weekends. He would also participate in the bigger work parties.
In the early days, our group counted the butts, but we stopped doing that when we started sending them to TerraCycle. TerraCycle uses a formula based on weight to determine the numbers of butts we sent them. In the first photo below, Al and I were counting the butts at the end of a work party.
Al is also known for feeding the birds in his neighborhood, including the crows. That brings me to the reason for writing this post. I saw this intriguing video the other day and thought this kind of crow training might be a natural fit as a volunteer job for you Al. 😉
These crows were picking up both litter and cigarette butts. A longer version of the video commented that people shouldn’t try it on their own, the crows should be trained by an experienced trainer. So maybe it isn’t your job of the future Al, but it is an intriguing idea!
(In writing this, I wondered if holding the butts in their beaks could harm the crows. I hope not.)