8,500 cigarette butts picked up off Suffolk streets on first day of anti-litter campaign
PUBLISHED: 16:56 15 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:56 15 September 2020
An Ipswich environmental activist is aiming to pick up thousands of harmful discarded cigarette butts throughout Suffolk this week - and is encouraging others to do the same.
Jason Alexander, known as the Wildlife Gadget Man, started his Blitz the Butt Week on Monday after becoming frustrated with seeing filters being thrown on the floor after smokers have finished with them.
Mr Alexander held a similar event over a single day last year, with more than 200 volunteers picking up around 200,000 butts.
However, he decided to extend this year’s campaign over a whole week, coinciding with World Clean Up Day on Saturday.
Mr Alexander, who has built a social media following with his environmental and litter picking campaigns, said the impact of cigarette butts on the environment is often underestimated.
He said they are the “most common” form of pollution, partly due to their small size - and explained how they can harm wild animals.
Mr Alexander said: “They have a massive impact on wildlife. There’s lots of photographic evidence of birds and small animals eating them.”
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As part of Blitz the Butt Week, the Ipswich-based eco-campaigner has teamed up with Irish firm Filtracycle to recycle the cigarette butts into something new, such as sunglasses.
Mr Alexander’s first day out in search of discarded filters saw him gather a haul of around 8,500.
He also said he has no issue with people smoking - but wished to spread the message of their impact when they are not disposed of properly.
Mr Alexander said: “The big difference this year is we are doing it over a week.
“Cigarette butts can potentially be recycled, but there are limited options.
“I’ve teamed up with Filtracycle, who will ensure they are recycled and reused.
“The vast majority of people don’t understand cigarette butts are made of plastic and they are the most common form of pollution on the planet.
“Because they are so small, they often go unrecognised. At this time of the year, they blend into fallen leaves on the ground. If you make them more visible, people will notice them.
“It would be great if we could eliminate cigarette butts altogether - but it will take time.”
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