Last week as I was waiting for the bus, I could not help but notice this overflowing trash can on North Avenue. It just made me so sad. Even in between taking pictures, a man tried to stuff some more into it.
From what I could see (I did not dig in and inspect), it looked like the majority of the trash can’s contents were recyclables such as plastic beverage containers. This makes sense because this trash can is right across from an L stop, so I assume many commuters drop off their pre and post work coffees here.
While my partner tallied and picked up other types of litter, I focused solely on collecting cigarette butts. I just continued counting and counting as I added more butts to the growing pile in my hand (I was wearing gloves, do not fear).
When we counted up our tally marks to reveal that we had over 300 cigarette butts in our trash bag, I was in shock! There were dozens of other teams too who may have picked up just as many.
In 2015, more than 52,600 cigarette butts were picked up at Chicago beaches, representing 27 percent of total litter found according to Alliance for Great Lakes data.
I just get really sad when I see people using our beaches (and our Earth) as an ashtray.
Luckily, the Alliance is putting a fun spin on properly disposing of cigarette butts.
1st round of results in! We had beach-goers vote with their butts to combat smoking litter! Stay tuned for more Qs. pic.twitter.com/PVLWEDPRaQ