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.

My Early Morning Walk (February)

When I walked out my front door this morning, the first thing I saw was the garbage and left over food someone had thrown onto the street in front of my house.  I picked up most of it before starting my morning walk.  A few blocks from my house I saw more trash; this time it was four beer cans, a paper bag and other forms of litter.  I decided to pick up at least some of it on my way back home.

I took a route that I had never taken before.  I was startled when I walked by a house that had bamboo stalks bigger than any I had ever seen.  In fact, they were much taller than the three story house.  A fence hampered my ability to take good photographs, but these will at least give you an idea of what they looked like.

I continued walking for awhile and then headed back home.  The garbage was still waiting for me.

As I got ready to pick it up, some very tiny flowers caught my eye.  I decided to photograph those.

After gathering the trash, I continued on my way home.  As I walked, I reflected on the litter, the bamboo and the flowers.  I’ve continued to think about them throughout the day.

Several years ago, picking up litter was a major focus in my daily life but that has not been true for awhile.  It is time for me to find my litter grabber and to once again support Mother Nature in that way.