Thursday, October 08, 2009

One Small Cigarette Butt

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” -Jim Rohn

You have seen it most anywhere that you go. Cigarette butts laying near the intersections of our roads, along the curbs of sidewalks and tossed down the alleys of our cities. It is a habit of so many people to toss these out the window. It makes one wonder if those particular cars came without ash trays. Again, if they did, we have all seen someone pulling up and dumping their ash tray on the ground.

It may be that these people believe cigarette filters are biodegradable. In fact, cigarette butts are not biodegradable in the sense that most people think of the word. The acetate filters can take many years to decompose.

According to the CigaretteLitter.Org folks, "What happens after that butt gets casually flicked onto the street, nature trail, or beach? Typically wind and rain carry the cigarette into the water supply, where the toxic chemicals the cigarette filter was designed to trap leak out into aquatic ecosystems, threatening the quality of the water and many aquatic lifeforms. Cigarette butts may seem small, but with several trillion butts littered every year, the toxic chemicals add up!"

The Ocean Conservancy compiled results of a shoreline cleanup day conducted by volunteers in 68 countries. It covered a combined 34,000 miles of shoreline and collected 7 million pounds of litter, 80 percent of which had been washed from land into the water. Of the 7.7 million items of debris collected worldwide in 2006, cigarettes and cigarette butts accounted for roughly 1.9 million, the sixth consecutive year they have topped the list.

Within cities, the cost to clean up these small and seemingly insignificant eye sores is astounding. In San Francisco, annual clean up costs run close to $11 million; a cost that is shared by taxpayers. It is $11 million that could go to parks, school funding or other needed public services. But there are many that only consider themselves.

In surveys, many smokers blame their littering behavior on a lack of well-placed bins for cigarette butts. Yet, would these same people toss a cigarette out at the curb of their home. There is no handy trash bin available along their driveway at home, so is it littered with cigarette butts. Somehow I doubt that is the case.

Ashtrays have been available in cars for quite a few years. The excuse of no nearby trash bin doesn't work for the car driver. Although the mindset not to dirty their own property, the one that keeps them from dirtying the ash tray in their car is the same one that thinks nothing of tossing a cigarette butt elsewhere.

The point here is not to pick just on smokers as there is plenty to go around. The point is to take responsibility for life around you. That we each need to look beyond our own self and see how everything we do impacts others. Taking others into consideration in making decisions improves life for all. It improves your life even greater then being self-centered. It isn't all about you. It is about all of us.

There will be disagreement from others and those that look outward will continue to do so. The idea is to stop for a moment and think about your actions. Taking responsibility in this small area will mean responsibility in bigger areas of your life. Be a bigger, more responsible person and see it change your life for the better.
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