Our opinion: Kicking and picking butts

Get your butts off our sidewalk.

Get them out of our garden.

Get your butts out of our sight.

We’re talking about cigarette butts here. We’re not so coarse as to refer to anything other than the back end of a product that not only shortens the life of its user but befouls sidewalks, roadways, beaches and virtually any place where one might be forced to endure the miasmic properties of its use.

Cigarettes are the most littered item in America. They’re generally not thought of as an important danger to the environment because they are individually small. But, remember the last time you lounged on the beach and ran your fingers through the sand only to dislodge some smoker’s waste? Suddenly the beach wasn’t as pleasant as it was five minutes before.

Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate tow, not cotton, and they can take decades to degrade. Millions are discarded daily, often in some haphazard manner.

Later this month, June 24 to be precise, students from the Salvation Army will be cleaning up cigarette butts around Warren. They’re doing it to reinforce their own acknowledgement of the dangers of smoking and press the point with others. The “Big Butt Cleanup” is being conducted to raise the community’s awareness of the hazards of tobacco use and secondhand smoke as well as the importance of adopting tobacco-free environments.

They’ll be doing something else important as well. They’ll be doing what they can to clean up the mess made by other people who thoughtlessly flick the spent end of their smokes willy-nilly.

Of course, others can take a more proactive approach: If you see someone drop a butt on the street or sidewalk, pick it up and return it to its owner as you would a dropped piece of change. They may not be as appreciative for the return of their property as they would be a quarter, but you will have made a point.

Anyone game?