Cigarette Butts and Other Discarded Trash
I wonder what people think when they see me walking across our parking lot bobbing up and down as I pick up pieces of trash or cigarette butts off of the ground? I also wonder why some of those same people think it’s OK to put their cigarette butts on the ground in the first place. When I pick up garbage off of the ground I’m not necessarily doing it to keep it out of the water but I guess it’s a great reason for doing it.
Students at UMD recently collected trash from the the shores of Lake Superior. Much of the trash that finds its way to Lake Superior is washed from the sidewalks and street gutters of Duluth. One of the main items found on the shore of the lake and in rivers around Duluth were cigarette butts. This prompted a study of the effects of residual tobacco on waterfleas. Obviously the toxicity from the cigarette butts had harmful effects on the water fleas.
I didn’t need to do an experiment to know cigarette butts in our water is bad but I hadn’t really thought about how harmful they could be to organisms in the water. It makes perfect sense to me now and reinforces my efforts to keep cigarette butts off of the ground and out of our water. I still see plenty of cigarette butts at campsites in the Boundary Waters and hope people will quit discarding them or pick them up so they don’t make their way into the clean lakes of the BWCA. And the next time you see a cigarette butt on the ground, bend over and pick up that saliva soaked butt to keep it off of the ground and out of our fresh waters.