Letter: The great pick up report
When I come home in the morning, I usually smell like beer and cigarettes. I pick up litter for about an hour on my early morning dog walk in Mathews, and I end up with a couple of bags full. I’m focused on cigarette butts, since I learned in May that a single butt contaminates two gallons of water. That did it for me. Mathews has bad enough water as it is.
In four months I’ve picked up 6,268 butts. I don’t pick up every butt that I can, however—we’d miss the fun of our walk—but I make an extra effort when there’s a festival or bike tour. You want to spruce up for company. I figure there must be at least 500 butts discarded in the court house every day, and hundreds more in the rest of the county. Some are cleaned up by business owners, but many go down the storm drains into our waterways, which can’t be good for what lives there.
I’ve had some surprises. I am most shocked by how many butts are on the ground less than five feet away from trash cans, even receptacles that are specifically equipped to take butts. I’m amazed that people throw out partially smoked and almost completely unsmoked cigarettes, many of which haven’t been put out. Couldn’t it start a fire? All it takes is a little litter, dry brush and some wind.
The recyclable bottles and cans I pick up and bring to the transfer station—several bags’ worth every week—are actually worth money to the town. We are given a credit on our garbage bill for how much we recycle. Speaking of money, I find plenty of it. In four months, I’ve collected $25.62.
Won’t you join me in this pick-up effort? I hope that people will think before littering—even cigarette butts—about the true cost, and about the savings to taxpayers of recycling.