Cee’s Black and White Photography Challenge: Vanishing Point

I created this image in 2014. My idea was to create a photo that showed that a seemingly endless number of toxic cigarette butts are tossed onto the ground as litter. To do that, I placed 1375 cigarette butts in a straight line on a sidewalk near my home. It worked!

GreenFriends PNW Litter Project: Kick Butts Day 2019

February was the coldest month in Seattle since 1940. The weather was unstable with the forecast changing day to day and sometimes hour to hour. March started off cold too. I was delighted when the prediction for full sun on March 4 stayed steady.

This was the 8th year that the GreenFriends PNW Litter Project held a cigarette butt pick-up work party in support of Kick Butts Day, a day of activism sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Their vision:

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.

The actual Kick Butts Day is on Wednesday March 20 but we had picked Sunday March 4 as our day to support their vision. Fifteen eager volunteers gathered in the International District at 10 a.m.

After signing in, the participants picked up gloves, bags to put their cigarette butts in, and litter grabbers if they wanted one. Once the volunteers were ready, they spread throughout the area.

Sign in

Cigarette filters 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 past San Diego State University study discovered that if you put fathead minnows and a single cigarette butt in a liter of water, half of the fish will die.

We take the attitude that every cigarette we pick up is one less that could end up being swallowed by a fish, bird or other form of wildlife. By sending them to TerraCycle to be recycled into plastic pallets, we also keep them out of the landfill.

Some years there are more butts on the ground than others. This year, in some areas, there were more butts than I have ever seen. The photos below were taken in front of a building that was a block from where we we had gathered.

Every member of the group worked diligently.

Just before noon, everyone came back to the park. Once there, we each added the cigarette butts we had collected to the main bag.

We waited for everyone to return…..

… and then took the group photo that is at the top of this post.

It had been another fun and productive cigarette butt pick-up work party. We won’t know how many butts we removed until they get to TerraCycle but we knew each one that was in our bag was one that didn’t end up in the landfill, waterways, or stomach of birds, fish or other creatures.

A Job Proposal for Al

23 pounds of cigarette butts

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.)

Kick Butts Day 2018

On March 4, members of the GreenFriends Pacific Northwest Litter Project held a cigarette butt pick up  in the International District of Seattle. The event was in honor of Kick Butts Day, a day of national activism sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. The actual day is later in the month, but since that day is mid-week we always hold our work party early. This is the seventh year we have supported Kick Butts Day in this way.

Twenty-one people participated in the butt pickup. We met at Hing Hay Park and then spread out throughout the District. Each person worked for 1-2 hours. At the end, we met back at the park to take a group photo.

Cigarette filters 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 past San Diego State University study discovered that if you put fathead minnows and a single cigarette butt in a liter of water, half of the fish will die.

We take the attitude that every cigarette we pick up is one less that could end up being swallowed by a fish, bird or other form of wildlife. By sending them to TerraCycle to be recycled into plastic pallets, we will also keep them out of the landfill.

At the end of the work party, we put all of the butts we had collected into a bag. It was amazing to see how many we had picked up in such a short time.

When we weighed the bag later, we discovered that in two hours we had picked up 12.81 pounds of butts. That is approximately 12,810 cigarette filters. It had been another successful Kick Butts Day.

 

Thank you Ginny and Jyoti for taking photos.

 

266,000 and More to Come!

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Last Saturday, twelve of our local members of the PNW GreenFriends Litter Project met at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill in Seattle.  Our goal, to pick up as many cigarette butts as we could in an hour and a half.  The Litter Project was formed in 2011.  Most of our members come from the Pacific Northwest part of the United States, but we also have members from other parts of the U.S. and around the world.

When I started picking up litter, I thought that cigarette filters were harmless cotton and often passed them by in favor of the bigger pieces of litter.  Soon I learned they were anything but harmless.  They are made from cellulose acetate tow 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. Continue reading “266,000 and More to Come!”

Twenty Pounds of Cigarette Butts

2013_LitterProjet-18

This past Saturday, thirteen members of the Seattle area part of the PNW Litter Project made it possible to keep 20 pounds of cigarette butts out of landfills, waterways and stomachs of birds and other forms of wildlife.

Cigarette butts are way more toxic than you might think. They are NOT made of cotton, they are made of cellulose acetate tow 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.

We have been picking up cigarette butts for the last three years. This particular work party was held in the International District of Seattle and was in honor of Kick Butts Day, an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. The event is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by the United Health Foundation.

The weather forecast for Saturday was dismal, one inch of rain was predicted. Nature graced us however. While it was cold and windy and everything was wet due to the rain that had fallen the previous night, there was no rainfall during the 1 ½ to 2 hours we worked.

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I like to believe that Mother Nature was pleased with us because after we finished, the wind died down and it was sunny for a good part of the day!

Tomorrow I will be packing up the 20 pounds of cigarette butts and mailing them to TerraCycle where they will be turned into plastic pallets!

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Photography 101: Bliss

In March 2014, I started my Living, Learning and Letting Go blog.  Creating posts for the blog has without doubt been a major source of bliss for me. When I think of which post I associate most with the word bliss, Bastet Pixelventures: One Point Perspective photography challenge comes to mind.

When first I read her challenge on June 2, I had no idea what a one point perspective was. I read Bastet’s directions and also looked the phrase up on Wikipedia. Wikipedia says:

A one-point perspective drawing means that the drawing has a single vanishing point, usually (though not necessarily) directly opposite the viewer’s eye and usually (though not necessarily) on the horizon line. All lines parallel with the viewer’s line of sight recede to the horizon towards this vanishing point. This is the standard “receding railroad tracks” phenomenon.

Now I knew what it was, but what photo could I take? As I started on my morning meditation walk, ideas began to enter my mind. I knew I wanted it to be a useful photograph, i.e. something that had a purpose beyond my post. Next I thought of the PNW Litter Project I coordinate. I could take a photo that could not only be used for the challenge, but also in our monthly GreenFriends newsletter and for Litter Project promotion.

Soon thereafter, it dawned on me how I could accomplish my goal.  I was so excited. As soon as I returned home, I set to work.

A main focus of the Litter Project is to pick up cigarette butts, the biggest form of litter in the world.  The butts are so toxic to the earth and to our waterways, marine animals, birds, etc.  To date we have picked up more than 225,000 butts.  We send them to TerraCycle to be turned into plastic pallets.

My idea was to create a photo that shows the never ending nature of the problem. To do that, I placed 1375 cigarette butts in a straight line on a sidewalk near my home. It worked!

I definitely felt blissful while creating the imagery and when I saw the photograph!

Litter
Cigarette Butt Litter in One Point Perspective

Written for Photography 101:  Bliss