6150 Cigarette Butts Collected On Carrigaline’s Main Street
Over A Four Week Period
WritesLiam O’Connor (Chairperson Carrigaline Tidy towns)
Carrigaline has, over the past number of years, received much acclamation for the beauty and vibrancy of its streets and surrounding areas. We have witnessed the introduction of beautiful new flower beds, impressive planters, a relaxing biodiversity plaza, bountiful trees and general streetscape enhancements. This is a collective effort, the benefits of which are multiple. However, one issue that has plagued the streets of Carrigaline for many years is the regular occurrence of discarded waste and rubbish along our beautiful streets and footpaths: the most prominent culprit? The Cigarette Butt.
Identified as an issue needing to be addressed, the Tidy Towns volunteers worked tirelessly collecting all discarded cigarette butts, over a consecutive four-week period between July and August, from the Main Street. The purpose of this initiative was to measure the extent to which the action of discarding a cigarette butt on the street was occurring and to highlight the fact that, despite a reduction in general waste being discarded, a culture still exists where throwing your cigarette butt on the street is considered an acceptable norm. A norm which occurred 6150 times, at least, over a four-week period on the Main Street.
To thoroughly investigate the causes and underpinnings of this problem we must first look at the infrastructure or facilities in place for individuals to discard their cigarette butts:
At present there are numerous bins, provided by Cork County Council that have incorporated cigarette butt ashtrays.
A number of businesses have placed additional wall-mounted cigarette bins outside their premises.
The Tidy Towns team have place additional cigarette butt bins in areas that were deemed cigarette butt blackspots.
Upon review, it is evident that there is an adequate infrastructure in place to cater for the collection of this form of litter on the Main Street. Therefore, the question must be asked: how do we change the culture? Perhaps exposure of the extent of the issue and an awareness campaign is the answer.
Discarded cigarette butt filters contain synthetic fibers and hundreds of chemicals used to treat tobacco. Many of these filters inevitably end up being washed into our local drain system, the Owenabue River and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. The waste often disintegrates into microplastics easily consumed by wildlife. The majority, unless swept up on a regular basis, are an eyesore to all. It is interesting to note that a recent litter report based in Dublin City found that the main causes of litter pollution are passing pedestrians (61%), passing motorists (15%), and retail outlets (7%).
Accordingly, it is our intention as the Tidy Towns Team to highlight our concerns and initiate an awareness poster campaign with the aim of addressing this issue. We are hoping that over the next number of weeks this campaign will raise the necessary awareness and that people will be more cognisant and aware of their actions. We would hope that, were we to carry out a similar investigation in one year’s time, we would witness a significant reduction in the amount of cigarette butt litter. Simply put: Cigarette butts are litter and throwing a cigarette butt on the street is a littering offence, subject to a €150.00 fine. It’s time to get the butts out of Carrigaline. Smoke It, Stub It, Bin It!