Another great Island Clean Up, but... | Letters
May 8, 2012 · Updated 4:09 PM
Thanks to everyone who pitched in to give our beautiful island a spring cleaning on April 21.
Almost 2,000 pounds of trash and recycling was collected by enthusiastic litter-picker-uppers who scoured the island’s roadsides and beaches, as well as town streets, gutters, and sidewalks. About 250 people participated, some as part of a group and some on their own.
Lots of interesting things were found, including old tires, several TVs, broken lawn chairs, a rubber car mat, a loaf of bread, a brand new large “T” plumbing connector, and many empty bottles and cans.
It was clear to participants in the cleanup effort that one of the main components of both road and beach litter is cigarette butts.
Thus, a gentle reminder to smokers: cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate—a form of plastic—so it takes years for them to degrade in the environment. And unfortunately, they have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures that mistake them for food. So please hang on to those butts until you get to an ashtray.
Beer bottles and cans were also found everywhere, indicating that our island has a serious problem with the potentially lethal combination of drinking and driving.
San Juan Island EMS reports that of the local fatalities from motor vehicle collisions, 80 percent involve alcohol. This is a problem we simply cannot afford to ignore.
Lori Stokes/San Juan Island