Islander picks up cigarette butts from dawn until dusk
HUNDREDS of cigarette butts were picked up yesterday by a man who is on a mission to make Guernsey a tidier place.
Andrew Munro, of Pick it Up Guernsey, was given the day off work by his employer, as part of its voluntary day scheme, to walk around the centre of St Peter Port, its outskirts and up to the Princess Elizabeth Hospital collecting cigarette butts. He also picked up general litter and invited people, and the police, to join them for an hour over lunch.
It was all part of World No Tobacco Day.
By lunch time he had collected two bags full of hundreds of butts.
Surprisingly, outside the hospital was one of the worst areas, he said.
‘I’ve actually only walked 7km so far today – I thought I would go further – but that just shows how much I have been stopping to pick things up,’ he said.
‘The plan was to pick up [cigarette butts] from dawn to dusk – I started at 5am and I will go through to 9pm.’
He said the outskirts of Town was the worst affected, mainly because the centre of Town was serviced very well by States Works.
Outside pubs was particularly bad.
‘This is hopefully growing awareness about how bad cigarette butts can be – they are very nasty.
‘I don’t think people realised that they don’t biodegrade either.’
He said it took 15 years for the butts to break down and then elements turned into micro-plastics.
Mr Munro, who works for Ogier, has been collecting litter for a couple of years. He started Pick it Up Guernsey after he saw a group of school children let a chocolate wrapper blow into the sea in Herm. Neither the teachers nor he did anything about it. He was with his three children and realised he wanted to do more to protect the environment from litter.
As part of his cigarette litter collecting yesterday, Mr Munro also contacted Guernsey Police and asked if they would get onboard to raise awareness.
PC Gary Ashford attended the lunch hour collection.
‘People who drop cigarette butts come under the fixed penalty notices for littering,’ PC Ashford said.
‘If you get a ticket, it is a £70 fine.’
He said the people most likely to drop them were those on the move. People would either get a warning or a ticket if they were seen littering.
‘Very often, the people who get the £70 ticket are the ones we have seen doing it before.’
He said smokers who dropped their butts needed to learn not to.
‘It’s a bit like wearing a seatbelt, once you learn to do it all the time you’re never not going to wear it again.’