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!


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!”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

In 2006, a UN Environment Programme report estimated that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.  While I don’t know how much plastic is in the ground, I know that whenever I dig in the empty lot behind my house, I find plastic in every shovelful.  I have lived in this house since 1973.  Most of the plastic has been there longer than that.

In March, a friend helped me cut down and remove many of the blackberry vines in that area.   Later, I cleared the remaining brush from one 36 square-foot section so that I could plant potatoes.

The pictures below show the trash I found when I made the holes for the potato starts. (I did not dig out the entire 36 square-foot area.  These objects were found only in in the holes I dug.)

I took the first two photos when the garbage was still in the yard. The third was taken after I spread the trash out on my deck table, The fourth is what it looked like after I gave it a light washing.  Notice how little decomposition there has been in the decades this trash has been in the ground.


Written for Weekly Photo Challenge:  Broken

Protecting Mother Nature From Straws

When I was in India recently, I used so many straws to drink coconut w  to the world’s plastic garbage problem in my face.  It also reminded me of a short article I wrote recently for one of our GreenFriends Newsletters.  I am going to reprint that article here both to give you information and to remind myself of the importance of changing my behavior.  Continue reading “Protecting Mother Nature From Straws”