Wednesday, April 23, 2008
We know that, just like the passenger pigeon and the great auk, the dodo has gone on to greener pastures, we hope. However, I found two new “birds” out there. Maybe because there are so many folks moving into our area? Or maybe because I’m watching everyone in cars these days, as I don’t trust other drivers to understand or obey the traffic signals. The first species: “Omnipresent Butt-Flicker.” This bird operates year ‘round, fair weather or foul, frequently flicking cigarette butts out the driver’s side window of a vehicle, whether moving or standing still. This species apparently lacks an ashtray in its vehicle, though I’ve noticed it driving cars that may indeed still have them, though maybe not where this species would like them located. This species is unaware that butt-flicking is littering. Often crying, “It’s only one cigarette butt,” it’s common in more urban areas. It also walks, and does its thing without a car window to facilitate flicking. The second species: “Constant Ash-Tapper.” This bird eventually morphs into the Butt-Flicker, tapping its ashes out of the car window as well, never knowing (or caring) where the ashes may go. This species often utters, “Well, I don’t want to smell up my car.” Too late. Plastic, leather, and cloth are amazingly porous materials that suck up smoke just like a large pair of lungs. All you Butt-Flickers - get your heads out of your ashes. Realize that those nasty little butts do have a hot end. One day, you’ll flick one “just right” and it’ll end up in the car behind you. In someone’s lap. Who’ll be none too happy with your species and who may well cause some road rage once he or she stops the “seated tap dance” that’ll ensue upon contact with a hot butt. And yes, you’re littering. Paint a mental picture, if you will, of all your flicked butts piled up in your front yard. All you Ash-Tappers – get your heads out of your butts long enough to realize that, even if your car doesn’t have an ashtray, you can buy one. Put some double-stick tape on a cheap plastic one and whack it to your dashboard or stick it in one of your cup holders. Yes, you’ll have to empty it – hopefully in an approved container and not at an intersection. But you wash your car every once in a while, right? So either suck the stuff up with a vacuum or dump it into a trash can. Make like the Butt-Flickers and just imagine all that piled up in your living room. According to an article from Reuters Health, worldwide, smokers toss at least 4.6 trillion (yes, with a “t”) butts each year. The paper and tobacco parts are biodegradable; not the filter. Made of cellulose acetate, it’s not environmentally friendly. We can correctly assume that "environmental responsibility" is fairly low on the list for the tobacco and cigarette folks, so I'd venture to guess that an eco-friendly filter isn't coming our way anytime soon. It’s very demoralizing to see these bits of litter in our parks, on streets and just about anywhere that the two aforementioned species congregate. While I recognize the choice these two species have made to smoke, I also wish to remind them that many of us choose not to smoke. We also choose not to litter. Therefore, when their right to smoke infringes upon our right to have a cleaner planet, we must draw the line and insist they curb their flicking and tapping habits and attempt to imitate those of us who prefer our planetary nest as free of litter as we can get it.