Saturday, September 17, 2011

Birds, Boats and Butts

I sought out this image today. The last time I was in this park I saw the ducks sitting on this very log and thought it would be nice to sketch. I had noticed a heron also however the heron did not make an appearance today and instead a cormorant and a seagull found an empty spot amongst the ducks.

As I sat in the grass along the waters edge fumbling with my pencil and paper I noticed two people, one with an orange garbage bag and the other with a clipboard making their way along the shoreline in my direction. The older gentleman was foraging through the brush, announcing his discovery to the lady behind him and putting whatever he had found in his bag. The lady then appeared to jot down his discovery on her clipboard. It turned out that they were part of a study to see what kind of garbage was making it's way into the city parks. To their and my surprise the number one piece of garbage they were coming across was cigarette butts. It turns out that cigarette butts are not bio-degradable and can survive outside for 2 to 10 years. I really never knew that cigarette butts hang around that long in the environment. It boggled my mind to think of how many smokers there are and how many cigarettes they smoke daily and how every butt they throw away stays where it lands for up to 10 years unless someone else sweeps it up, picks it up or eats it up (which I am sure a few ducks have done). Since I don't smoke I never considered how people disposed of their butts or how getting rid of the end of a smoking hot stick must be difficult especially if there is no place to safely put it out.

I think I will discuss this further with my smoking friends and relatives to see where they stand on the subject. Do they know their butts are not bio-degrading and may be the number one piece of garbage along our shorelines and in our parks today? I have a feeling that most don't and think they will change their habits if given the chance.