Written By: Stefania Mustillo, Butt Blitz Intern
In two hours that entailed some major squats (awesome work out!) and typical Montreal high humidity, a volunteer and I picked up 2,189 cigarette butts from Westmount Park to the Lachine Canal via Lionel Groulx metro and back for the 2017 Butt Blitz event held on May 6. Considering TRILLIONS of butts are littered every year, why does it matter? Well... the interactions I had with passerby was very thoughtful and interesting. People were very curious as to what we were doing. Also, at least for a short time, those areas will be cleaner. Giving out pocket ashtrays was pretty fun as well since a lot of people didn’t know about their existence and were happy to take them. All of this was, for me, the most important aspect of this campaign, as people’s curiosity and appreciation seemed to show no bounds.
At the end of it all, including previous pick-ups as well as some done after the event, I had over 4,200 butts ready for shipping. All of these will be recycled by TerraCycle in Toronto. Cigarette filters look like cotton but in fact, they are made from woven acetate (plastic) which then gets recycled into park benches and other items believe it or not.
Furthermore, when picking up the butts, you see just how much litter there is on the ground like small pieces of plastic and other disposable items. It really opens your eyes to the amount of stuff we consume and discard.
Personally, I respect cities like I respect nature: as organic and living entities. I do not want to live in a city where I have to wade in a bunch of cigarette butts and garbage waiting for the bus or where flower pots and tree grates are considered acceptable ashtrays and garbage bins. Picking up after oneself or using a pocket ashtray could give our cities the makeover they deserve and the awareness that the Butt Blitz event created of just that is what it is all about.
Stefania Mustillo holds a BA in Geography from Bishop’s University and is a recent graduate of McGill University’s MSc Integrated Water Resources Management program. A native Montrealer, Stefania is interested in promoting civic pride: enjoying what big cities have to offer while also keeping them clean and green. She assisted with the 2017 Butt Blitz event by recruiting coordinators and volunteers, making this the most successful event to date!