The asphalt is not an ashtray

The asphalt is not an ashtray. Photo Cheryl Vanderburg.
The asphalt is not an ashtray. Photo Cheryl Vanderburg.

Cigarette butts. You see them everywhere. On the curbside in front of your house. In local shopping parking lots and bus stops. In front of coffee shops and restaurants on Bayview. It is so irksome. Cigarette butts are litter too.

Living across from Trace Manes Park, I see the City maintenance workers finishing a butt in their truck before cutting the lawns and then tossing it out the window. I see library staff smoking at break time and then tossing their butts on the street. I see people smoking as they are walking and then tossing their butts. I actually picked one up once and brought it back to the person who tossed it. Thankfully, she reacted kindly and thanked me for bringing it to her attention. Then there are the drivers who toss their butts out the window while stopped at Rumsey and McRae.

At one point “the bridge players” at the community centre were littering butts on the front sidewalk. I spoke with the caretaker, who had called the bylaw officer about it, and he told me that there used to be a butt receptacle at the front door of the building but it had to be removed when the “no smoking within nine metres of the building” notice went up. Seems a bit ludicrous.

The City of Toronto bylaw states: “Every proprietor of a public building needs to: Ensure people do not smoke within nine metres radius of any entrance or exit. Ensure no ashtrays are placed within restricted areas. Post No Smoking signs.”

So, what is a smoker to do? I have a friend who extinguishes her butt and places it in her cigarette package if she can’t find a butt receptacle. The City litter bins all have butt receptacles. My mother carried a personal portable ashtray. These mini-ashtrays can be purchased at Dollarama. Or why not use your car ashtray and empty it into a trash bin?

Maybe the City or the BIA would consider offering and/or placing TerraCycle aluminum Cigarette Waste Receptacles in community locations. All cigarettes collected could then be sent to TerraCycle for recycling.

Here is some inspiration. The Downtown Campbell River BIA in British Columbia promotes the area as a vibrant, safe and business-friendly place. Members of the community pick up cigarette butts every day and drop them off to the Downtown BIA receptacle for shipping.

TerraCycle receptacles have also been installed in front of buildings like the library, town theatre, art gallery, and shopping plaza. In addition, they have a Get the Point Team which helps to pick up garbage all around the community and have joined in the Downtown BIA’s Cigarette Waste Recycling Campaign. They not only pick up cigarette butts but empty the receptacles as well.

Could this happen in Leaside? A girl can dream. Meanwhile, for any smokers reading this article who are in the habit of tossing their butts, changing your behaviour would be appreciated! Keep Leaside litter free one butt at a time.

About Cheryl Vanderburg 45 Articles
Cheryl Vanderburg writes the monthly column "Leaside Litterati." She is a local 'plogger' who combines her love of walking with picking up litter. She hopes to inspire all Leasiders to join this newest craze to stay fit and keep our neighborhood green and clean.