Cigarettes were part of my family’s history. My great-grandfather began a small cigarette company in England. My parents smoked. My husband smoked. I smoked. I remember the awkwardness of cigarette butts. What to do with them? Back then I didn’t know there was plastic in them, and that if dropped, birds and other marine life would eat them and get sick.
I know now. As a Zero Waste Granny, I spend hours each month as I walk along, picking up butts along with other roadside litter. I know that each butt I pick up may save it being eaten by a seabird. Last week, the rain came and stormwater flooded down the side of the road, sweeping the roadsides clean and gifting every cigarette butt and piece of plastic litter into the world of marine creatures, those very ones that make the Bay so special for each one of us.
As a smoker, a friend gave me a special gift. It was a small screw top tin that she had hand painted in my favourite colours. This little tin meant a lot to me, it made me feel valued and cared for, honoured my dignity and my choice to be a smoker, yet allowed me to value and care for the environment wherever I stood. I kept it in my bag, in my car, used it at home. Today, caring for our environment is more urgent than ever. Like my friend all those years ago, I can find ways to support others using alternatives to just the quick drop to the ground of a butt, or two. It may be public ashtrays, a painted tin, or just a caring dialogue with a smoker about how together we can care for our Bay. It’s our common future, eh? #FarNorth.Us.Flourishing.