731 Butts On The Beach

A huge statue in Trafalgar Square, via nationalgeographic.com

“Would you flick that into your kids’ bathwater?” I’m trying to brainstorm and come up with short slogans about cigarette butts, which dominate the marine debris scene for the Indian River Lagoon. Over the last week I’ve been out to scour the same edge of water – as I’ve been reporting on for nearly a month – and besides drinking containers (bottles, cans, and straws) its the butts that bother me most. And I’m not the only one who is bothered by them.

In fact, I kept score. In the last week I’ve removed well over thirty pounds of trash. Somewhere in that mix was a staggering 731 cigarette butts. To be sure they don’t weigh much, but seven hundred and thirty one were there!!

I had another revelation this week. Those weekenders and tourists I complained about before.. well.. they might contribute to the problem but they’re not the only source. I swept the field spotless on Monday only to return on Tuesday to find just as much trash back on the beach.

I’d like to believe that the wind vectored in all this debris – like some animal bringing in parasites and other vestiges of disease – but it isnt just the wind. When you find several Arby’s wrappers plus ketchup packets plus a drink cup all in one location it points to a different method of locomotion for the trash. One with a hairy beach ape moniker.

Do you have any crafty cigarette butt slogans for me? I’d really like to highlight how silly it is to toss a chemically toxic item on the ground just inches away from the spot where parents routinely let their kids swim. What I plan to do with these slogans I truly haven’t decided yet, but the arsenal for outreach is growing, and I’d like to have the wittiest weapons possible.