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Oct. 23, 2021 | Saturday
Editorials and Opinions
Keeping it Green: 3,300 butts picked up in blitz so far
A garbage “grabber” makes cleaning up tiny cigarette butts much faster (Kyra Simone photo)

A team of volunteers is conducting a “Butt Blitz” smoking litter cleanup during the month of September as noted in the last "Keeping it Green" column.

In the past two weeks, I have picked up more than 3,300 cigarette butts in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It feels great to remove these sources of microplastics and toxins from the environment. At the same time, it has really put into perspective the sheer scale of the cigarette litter problem.

So far, I have tried to do cleanups while I’m already out around town, on walks with family or running errands. So, I still haven’t cleaned up some of the areas that I think would be true “hot spots” for cigarette litter, like parking lots in busy plazas.

That said, here are some cleanup tallies so far: Fort George parking lot (455 butts), Memorial Park lot (465), Shopper Drug Mart plaza (545), the Commons loop (450), Home Hardware and LCBO (130), Old Lakeshore Road (710) and streets in the Village (515).

At the Shoppers plaza, there were many cigarette butts around one front picnic table and behind the restaurant. I also only spent 15 minutes at the Home Hardware and LCBO parking lots, so I intend to return for more thorough cleanups later.

On Garrison Village and the Village neighbourhood streets, most cigarette butts were concentrated around construction sites. On the Commons, the largest number of butts were found along the gravel strip next to Paradise Grove.

There are about two more weeks left in the Butt Blitz. I’m excited to see the Niagara team’s results at the end of the month.

Once we’ve finished collecting this data on smoking litter hotspots in town, I will reach out to local businesses. Hopefully, they will be open to implementing signage and ashtrays for visitors and employees to put their waste in the right place, and maybe even go the extra step to recycle these cigarette butts.

Kyra Simone is a NOTL-born nature lover with a master's degree in biology. In her spare time, she advocates for sustainable change, picks up garbage, makes recycled jewelry, and transforms furniture bound for the landfill.