I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I didn’t know that cigarette butts were an environmental issue. I’m also not a smoker, so I never gave it much thought. But Hanan Shteingart – co-founder of “Eretz Lelo Bdalim” (Country Without Cigarette Butts) and anti-cigarette butt activist extraordinaire – recently brought our attention to this important and pervasive issue.
Hanan decided to take action after constantly seeing the beaches full of cigarette butts and was inspired by his sister, who even asks drivers who toss cigarette butts out of their car windows to get out and pick them up.
Anyone who’s visited Israel knows that smoking here isn’t taboo. It’s no New York, where you have to go out onto the street to light up. And unfortunately, a whole lot of garbage comes hand in hand with a whole lot of smokers. Approximately 80% of all cigarette butts aren’t thrown out in the trash, but rather tossed onto streets or beaches.
They’re definitely unsightly, but more significantly – cigarette butts are really bad for the environment. Here’s a brief list of some of their top environmental offenses:
Cigarette butts do not biodegrade because the filters are made partially from cellulose acetate, a type of plastic.
They end up in the water supply where the filters release a whole bunch of nasty toxic chemicals.
Birds and wildlife mistake them for food, thus poisoning the poor creatures.
They cause forest fires when disposed of incorrectly or tossed out of moving cars.
So what can you do?
Eretz Lelo Bdalim has a petition on their website (that hundreds of people have already signed) and they hope to cause legislative action to take place. You could also take it one step further and sign up to be a Cleanliness Trustee with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which gives you the power to hand out littering tickets to offenders.