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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Arcata, California, USA

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Arcata, California, USA
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Registered: July 2007
City/Town/Province: Arcata
Posts: 1
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“No Butts About It”
By: Sara

PICTURES: (1)“No Butts About It” Painted campaign sign in front of pile of picked up cigarette butts; (2) the massive pile of butts- ewwwww!

It was a mellow and sunny day in Arcata last Saturday, July 27th. Nestled amongst the beautiful and epic redwood forest, this little town is home to many interesting and wonderful sights such as historic original buildings, Humboldt State University, and, of course, the Arcata Community Forest. As a newcomer here, I am continually awed by the majestic beauty of my new home. I am also saddened by all the litter, particularly cigarette butts, that lay an ugly veil over the natural beauty of this place. So, I decided to name myself the official trash clean up crew, cleverly named my efforts the “No Butts About It” campaign and made it my goal to comb the entrances to the community forest and hit up the main street through town, G St, until I filled a whole large trash bag with cigarette butts and related litter. I set out right after work with a glove and a bag and my friend Yenick who owed me a favor (?).

I was surprised by how, when I was looking for litter, how much more of it becomes apparent than when I was just casually noticing it. Every two or three feet I found myself bending over to pick up another cigarette butt. It was disgusting! Even when ashtrays or trashcans were near by, butts covered the grounds nearby! I was ashamed of my community for carelessly leaving their trash in places like hollowed out redwood stumps and smashed in beds of milk thistle or dandelions. Raccoons and squirrels scurried over the trash on the side of the trails. Clusters of cigarette butts were found by drains and in the weeds behind the buildings of G St, no doubt remains of many a smoke break through the months. Behind the three bars on the plaza- the main central square in town- was the absolute worst, without much surprise, and I filled nearly a fourth of my bag just from that little strip of sidewalk alone!

I think that prevention is the best solution for litter problems as clean up efforts are costly in time and energy and volunteers are scarce. More ashtrays in convenient locations and easy to read signage asking kindly to not litter (and maybe a tid-bit about why, e.g. how old the trees are, how vital to the ecosystem the forest is, a bit about community pride perhaps…) might help to reduce the waste being buried under the brush of the forest and swept by the drains to the nearby ocean. Of course, nothing will fully eliminate litter and a monthly clean up crew, maybe comprised of volunteers recruited from the student body at the local university and high school, could help remedy the problem and foster a future generation that’s more conscious.

After five hours of bending and picking I had reached my goal of a full bag. Yenick and I were exhausted, sweaty, and emanated stench. As the sun was setting anyway, we decided to call it a day. However, it was all well worth it as, walking home on G St, I couldn’t help but remark on how clean the streets in Arcata are!
· Date: August 1, 2007 · Views: 7711 · File size: 28.9kb, 156.2kb · : 638 x 478 ·
Hours Volunteered: 5.5
Volunteers: 2
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 24 to 26
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 4
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 4
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