Thursday, August 21, 2014

NOT an Ashtray




This is what happens when I'm without the car for a week.
I'm sticking around town beachcombing nearby.

Background info: Surfrider beach clean up, Cadboro Bay, Sunday Aug 10th, I meet the woman behind the ash can installations that have been showing up in Victoria - 20 as of July 20 in the downtown area. For this clean-up I choose to focus on butts as well as general garbage. I don't remember what my count was that day but it got added to the tally at the end of the session.

224 butts  last week - collected on the land side of Dallas Road between 74 and Menzies St. = 8 blocks. It started out casual enough. I'll just pick up a few on my way to yoga class. It'll add 20 minutes to the normal 10 minute trip; no sweat. No sweat, ha! It was one of the hottest days of the summer and I had no idea when I left our shaded sweet spot that a virtual oven awaited. I arrived sweat drenched with fragrant eau de diaphoresis excreting out of every pore (which I'm sure endeared me to my fellow yogis) from all the squatting and bending under a clear blue, windless sky.
Other findings - cellophane from cigarette packages, the cellophane strip used to open the packages, bits of plastic, wrappers from junk food

Looks pristine, right?
Butts in the crevices; there are a lot of crevices.
800 butts  Wed Aug 20th - collected on the ocean side of Dallas Road between 74 and Oswego St. = 4 blocks. I decide to make a more concerted effort. This locale is perfect. Anywhere people park their butts they will chuck their butts. Prime spots for butt accumulation: park benches (there are about 3), bus stops (there is one), curbs, curbs with parking spaces (a vast expanse covering a few blocks). I quit about ½ way along the breakwater as the smell is getting to me - ugh. When I worked as a waitress and dishwasher, dumping and clearing ash trays was the thing I dreaded the most and made me gag every time.
Other findings - pretty much the same as above though more plastic straws

After the butt clearing I get a pop, take it down to sit on the rocks at the beach to enjoy the sun and waves. Only thing is, I have to clear the space of butts smushed and crammed into what is obviously considered by many to be nature's ashtray.

340 butts  Thurs Aug 21st - collected on the same area of the rocks, the surrounding area and the path up to the sidewalk which has 3 benches - 100 of the butts collected from the rocks themselves. Dismayed by my experience of the day before, I chose this as a 90 minute project; overseen by a resident seagull. There seems to be less than the day before. Perhaps people picked up after themselves but most likely seagulls gobbled some up or the wind blew them into the sea.
Other items - bottle caps of both metal and plastic, broken glass, bits of cellophane and candy wrappers, fast food packaging, and one plastic 6 ring pop can holder intact.
Bag of 340 butts

NOTE: I pick up butts using plastic bags, primarily from packaged bread, some grocery store bags (used for wet produce) that have been washed and reused multiple times. I use one for my hand and the other to put the butts and garbage in. I carry hand cleanser and use it at the end of the pick up or go to a washroom and wash hands thoroughly. I've also used an old pair of leather gloves as they fit better than canvas ones for picking up fine items.

Reactions from people:
- most give me a wide berth
- some thank me or say "good for you"
- one woman stops her pole walking and asks what I'm doing, what organization do I belong to. I tell her I don't belong to any organization per se, just doing it for myself but I pass on information about Surfrider and their monthly beach clean ups. I tell her that I'll blog about my findings - it may be of interest to some people.
- A man says, "That's a thankless task."
  "Not really," I say. He doesn't' realize that I'm not doing it so much for us as I am for the water and the land but I add, "People will still litter but maybe they'll be less inclined to dump stuff in a place that is litter free." That is my hope.
- Another man tells me he collected 1,000 bottle caps at a beach not long ago.
- A couple commend me for my actions and tell me that they used to do this at the hospital grounds across the street from where they used to live.

The ash cans are a great idea yet at the same time I don't understand why people can't just stash their butts in a tin they carry with them or as a friend of mine did, after getting rid of the ash - back in the pack.

Nature isn't our ashtray or our garbage bin it's someones home and it's our home too. Leave it beautiful for the enjoyment of others and the safety of all who inhabit it. It takes no effort to find the garbage bin or pack it back home.

Why am I so passionate about this?
I remember a time when beaches and parks in my hometown of Oakville and its neighbour town Burlington were clear of litter. Read these other posts and maybe you'll see what can happen here in this beautiful place unless we take action now…
A WALK IN THE PARK (Mar 10/13) - here 

No comments:

Post a Comment