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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.
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.
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.)
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!”
During the last week of June 2011, I had a series of eye-opening experiences. As the week came to a close, I realized I also had a new direction in my life, the beginning of a new service project. How this project came about seemed almost mystical to me.
Some background first. Amma* has asked us for years to chant the Sri Lalitha Sahasranama** (also called archana) daily. While I have not been consistent in my chanting, I have had numerous powerful experiences when I have followed her direction to chant it daily. This was one of those times.
My normal practice is to read/chant the text while walking. I generally take one of four routes so that I know the terrain and can be focusing on the chant rather than my feet! This is what unfolded during those seven days in June 2011:
I chanted the archana while walking the perimeter of the play yard in a grade school that is a block from my house. After reciting the first 850 lines, I started walking back home. A minute or two after leaving the school yard, I looked down at my feet and saw I was walking through an area of the sidewalk that was full of dog poop. I felt very irritated that the dog owner hadn’t cleaned it up and worried that I had stepped in the poop either coming or going from the play yard. Scowling, I continued on with the archana. Continue reading “The Beginning of a New Passion”
I was excited when I read that Bastet’s Pixelventures challenge for this week was to do some creative editing on an existing picture.
I have belonged to the Pacific NW Litter Project since it began in July of 2011. I decided to use a picture I had taken at the end of our first work party. We pulled a lot of garbage out of a forested area of Seattle on that day! Continue reading “Bastet’s Pixelventures: Playing with Apps”
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