Laws surrounding cigarettes and smoking have changed drastically in recent years, but with insufficient accountability on the part of leading tobacco companies and let’s call it misconception on the part of millions of smokers, Mother Earth has become the go-to ashtray.
Around the world, 4.5 trillion cigarettes are discarded into the environment each year. In Australia every single day 20 million cigarettes are littered… if laid end to end, the line of butts would circle Earth 3.6 times.
Cigarette butts are the number one littered item in the world. Those little useless butts pollute our environment, are toxic to our marine ecosystems, choke and poison land and sea animals, leach chemicals and toxins into the ground and waterways poisoning living organisms, impact the quality of our water, are fire hazards, are a risk to the health and safety of young children and pets, and cost the community time and money to clean up.
So now what?
In the gap between individual accountability and our collective responsibility as humans to protect and cherish our Mother Earth, FEAL is joining the ranks of countless environmental initiatives to clean-up this mess. “The intent here is not to induce guilt or to make the heart heavy. Human hearts are heavy enough as it is. The intent is to confront ourselves in all sincerity with the real reason for our behavioural patterns’ (Peter O. Erbe – God I Am).
We’ve sent smokers outside and that’s where their butts are. Stubbed on the ground, carelessly dropped, or quickly discarded to ditch the evidence of a dirty habit. In Queensland, over 90% of reports for littering from a vehicle is for cigarette butts. With an entire car to house the little filter, Mother Earth is chosen as the dustbin. Why?
The most common excuses for littering cigarette butts as given by smokers are:
Not knowing that it’s litter.
Cigarette butts are litter. Now you know.
A lack of available bins.
Find a bin, hold onto your butt until you find a bin, carry a mini ciggie butt bin with you… Mother Earth is not an ashtray, and littering is an environmental crime.
Being too lazy.
If you have the energy to go outside for a smoke carrying a whole cigarette with you, it should be easy to use the nicotine buzz to hold the little filter until you find a bin. And if you’re worried about having dirty hands remember that polluting and poisoning Mother Earth is on your hands too.
But this isn’t a shame campaign. It’s a clean-up initiative, an educational platform, a community endeavour. A cigarette can take up to 10 years to decompose and even then it only disintegrates into a fine plastic powder – an invisible, far-reaching poison. We need to be mindful in our choices, accountable in our actions (you can get a $252 fine for littering ciggie butts in Queensland), resolute in our conviction that change is possible and an absolute necessity, uncompromising in our environmental protection, and compassionate towards ourselves, each other and our planet.
We need Cignificant Change, no ifs no butts.