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“The Planet is not an Ashtray” – It’s Time to Stop Throwing Cigarette Butts on the Ground

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever witnessed someone flick their burnt out cigarette butt onto the ground while they’re standing outside the pub, or walking down the sidewalk. Or, if you’ve ever driven over a still-lit cigarette on the road after the driver in front of you chucked it out the window of their moving car. 

In a public setting, throwing a soda can or an empty coffee cup onto the ground is a hard no, often met with swift social backlash by surrounding witnesses. So why, then, is it considered socially acceptable to throw cigarette butts – literal chemical trash on fire – onto the ground?
While the act of discarding a cigarette butt onto the ground may seem insignificant in the moment, statistics show the staggering and destructive impact this decision has on the environment when made by millions of people every day. 

According to a National Geographic article released in August 2019, cigarettes are the top plastic polluters around the world. Globally, approximately 6.5 trillion cigarettes are purchased each year, and of those, “an estimated two-thirds of the trillions of filters used each year are tossed into the environment.” 

Cigarettes are not biodegradable. The breakdown that results from weathering and time spent in the elements leads to further environmental degradation, as thousands of microscopic plastic fibers and chemicals are released. The chemicals found in cigarette ash and filters, which include arsenic, lead and benzene, among others, are poisonous to the environment and its inhabitants.
In 2019, a study led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) was published in the journal of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety highlighting how cigarette butts significantly reduce plant growth. “We believe it is the chemical composition of the filter that is causing damage to the plants,” says co-author Dr. Bas Boots, “Most are made from cellulose acetate fibers, and added chemicals which make the plastic more flexible … may also be leaching out and adversely affecting the early stages of plant development.”  

In addition to inhibiting early plant growth, cigarette litter consistently ends up in waterways that lead to surrounding rivers, lakes, and the ocean. This contaminates the water with dangerous chemicals and plastics that poison marine life and other animals, who often mistake cigarette butts for food.
Not to mention, in regions experiencing hotter, dryer climates, cigarette butts can lead to wildfires when discarded before being properly extinguished. In June 2019, the Vancouver Island Fire Department responded to 7 fires in 7 days, all of which were caused by improperly discarded cigarette butts. 

The social norm that permits cigarette butts as an acceptable form of litter is far outdated. Cigarette litter should be held to the same standard as all other forms of chemical and plastic waste that negatively impact the environment, meaning the onus is on the user to ensure proper, safe disposal. 

Brain Garden is a family run business based in Vernon, British Columbia, on an international mission to eliminate cigarette litter and its detrimental environmental effects. 

Founded by ‘Head Gardener” Jack Elliman in 2012, Brain Garden manufactures eco-friendly, airtight Pocket Ashtrays for safe, on-the-go disposal of cigarette butts. When users drop their lit cigarettes into the Pocket Ashtray and snap it shut, the airtight seal extinguishes the butt and traps the smoke, successfully tackling 2 of the main reasons individuals litter in the first place – convenience and lingering smell.
The inspiration for the Pocket Ashtray originated in the transformational festival industry, where individuals are encouraged, if not required, to leave no trace. Though not as commonly as on a city sidewalk, even there, Elliman noticed, cigarette butts were ending up on the ground. It was there Elliman identified the need for a convenient, eco-conscious solution to keep cigarette butts from ending up in the environment.

From there, the environmentally friendly invention has expanded into the global market as a convenient, educational product that leads to less cigarette waste littering our towns, contaminating our waterways, harming our wildlife, and causing wildfires.
“It really comes down to education,” says Elliman, inventor of the Pocket Ashtray, “people forget that cigarette waste is toxic waste, and now with COVID, it’s a biohazard as well.” Since the launch of Brain Garden 8 years ago, more than 100,000 Pocket Ashtrays have been distributed to cities, fire departments, music festivals, cleanup groups and more worldwide. 

The story doesn’t end there, however. The Pocket Ashtray goes one step beyond simply keeping cigarette litter off the ground. Once the Pocket Ashtray becomes full, the contents can be mailed to TerraCycle using free shipping labels provided by Brain Garden, compliments of TerraCycle. From there, TerraCycle composts the remaining paper and tobacco and recycles the cellulose acetate. 

“We are about to hit 1000 total pounds of recycled cigarette litter with TerraCycle,” says Elliman. This one-ton milestone is a result of global participation in various Brain Garden cigarette litter campaigns, including “butt barrels” and “butt buckets” which function alongside the Pocket Ashtrays.
The funds generated from the recycling process with TerraCycle are then put towards the Brain Garden Wildfire Prevention and Education Campaign. This campaign focuses on reducing wildfire risk by providing free Pocket Ashtrays to the smokers, promoting safe and responsible cigarette disposal, and educating the public about the dangers of improperly discarded cigarette butts. 

It’s 2021. Time to respect the environment, be a good human and use an ashtray.

For more information on the Pocket Ashtray and how to join Jack Elliman and Brain Garden on their ongoing mission to protect the environment from the largest global plastic pollutant, visit https://braingarden.ca

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

Maxime Bernier says it’s ‘astounding’ Alberta is ‘pushing’ COVID boosters, tells Danielle Smith to stop it

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

The People’s Party of Canada leader tells the Alberta government: ‘It’s over! Get over it!’

People’s Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith should tell provincial health bureaucrats to “back off” and stop “pushing” the mRNA COVID boosters on “anyone,” considering a recent announcement from health officials recommending yet more COVID shots.

“I find it astounding that Alberta public health bureaucrats are still pushing the mRNA boosters on anyone, and especially on children who have never been at risk, almost two years after almost all other pandemic measures have been ended,” Bernier told LifeSiteNews.

“Danielle Smith’s government should tell its bureaucrats to back off and stop stupidly feeding a needless sense of fear surrounding the virus that lingers among certain groups of society. It’s over! Get over it!”

Earlier this week, officials from Alberta Health Services (AHS), whose chief medical officer throughout the COVID crisis, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, was fired by Smith in 2022, updated its COVID booster recommendations to every “three months” starting at babies only six months old.

“Starting April 15, 2024, select groups of Albertans at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 will be eligible for an additional dose,” the AHS noted on its website.

AHS health officials still assert that all “vaccines are safe, effective and save lives,” and that one can get a COVID shot at the same time as a flu vaccine.

On April 16, Bernier commented on the AHS’s new COVID jab guideline changes on X, in which he asked, “What’s going on in Alberta with their “conservative” government?

Bernier, who was a firm opponent of both the COVID shots and mandates, told LifeSiteNews that AHS’s recommendations are puzzling, given “more and more scientific evidence is emerging of dangerous side effects when injecting from these experimental substances.”

“Even though these are only recommendations, and nothing is mandated, this ‘guidance’ by government agencies influences people’s decisions,” Bernier said.

Those under 18 still need written or verbal consent from their parents to get the shot.

AHS is recommending booster jabs for seniors, healthcare workers as well as those with underlying medical conditions. They also recommend that First Nations people and “members of racialized and other equity-denied communities,” as well as pregnant women get the shots as well.

The COVID shots were heavily promoted by the federal government as well as all provincial governments in Canada, with the Alberta government under former Premier Jason Kenney being no exception.

The mRNA shots themselves have been linked to a multitude of negative and often severe side effects in children.

Danielle Smith took over from Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP) on October 11, 2022, after winning the leadership. Kenney was ousted due to low approval ratings and for reneging on promises not to lock Alberta down as well as enacting a vaccine passport. Smith was opposed to COVID jab mandates.

Bernier: It’s ‘deplorable’ some provinces still mandate COVID shot for Heathcare workers

While Alberta does not mandate the COVID shots for healthcare workers anymore, British Columbia still does as well as some health regions in Ontario, a fact that Bernier called “deplorable.”

“I find it deplorable that nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers in B.C. and Ontario still have to be vaccinated to work in hospitals and that thousands of them have not been reintegrated,” Bernier told LifeSiteNews.

“The authoritarian covid measures adopted by all governments have been traumatic enough for millions of Canadians. All of them should be lifted.”

Last year, LifeSiteNews reported on how the details of the Canadian federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine contract with Pfizer for millions of doses of the mRNA-based experimental shots were recently disclosed after being hidden for over three years.

The contract with Pfizer shows the government agreed to accept the unknown long-term safety and efficacy of the shots. The details of the Pfizer contract do not disclose how much the government spent on the jabs.

A bill introduced by Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre that would have given Canadians back their “bodily autonomy” by banning future jab mandates was voted down last year after Trudeau’s Liberals and other parties rejected it.

Adverse effects from the first round of COVID shots have resulted in a growing number of Canadians filing for financial compensation over injuries from the jabs via the federal Vaccine Injury Program (VISP).

VISP has already paid well over $11 million to those injured by COVID injections.

Earlier this year, LifeSiteNews reported on how officials from Health Canada have admitted that there is “residual plasmid DNA” in the COVID shots after a Conservative MP asked the agency through an official information request if the DNA fragments were in the shots.

As for Bernier, earlier this month he called out Poilievre for dodging a question regarding Canada’s participation in the United Nations’ pro-abortion Paris Climate Agreement.

Throughout most of the COVID crisis, Canadians from coast to coast were faced with COVID mandates, including jab dictates, put in place by both the provincial and federal governments.

After much pushback, thanks to the Freedom Convoy, most provincial mandates were eliminated by the summer of 2022.

There are currently multiple ongoing class-action lawsuits filed by Canadians adversely affected by COVID mandates.

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Alberta

Canada’s advantage as the world’s demand for plastic continues to grow

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From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

‘The demand for plastics reflects how essential they are in our lives’

From the clothes on your back to the containers for household products to the pipes and insulation in your home, plastics are interwoven into the fabric of day-to-day life for most Canadians.

And that reliance is projected to grow both in Canada and around the world in the next three decades

The Global Plastics Outlook, published by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), forecasts the use of plastics globally will nearly triple by 2060, driven by economic and population growth.  

The use of plastics is projected to double in OECD countries like Canada, the United States and European nations, but the largest increases will take place in Asia and Africa. 

“The demand for plastics reflects how essential they are in our lives, whether it is packaging, textiles, building materials or medical equipment,” says Christa Seaman, vice-president, plastics with the Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), which represents Canada’s plastics producers.  

She says as countries look to meet climate and sustainability goals, demand for plastic will grow. 

“Plastics in the market today demonstrate their value to our society. Plastics are used to make critical components for solar panels and wind turbines. But they also can play a role in reducing weight in transportation or in ensuring goods that are transported have less weight in their packaging or in their products.” 

Canada produces about $35 billion worth of plastic resin and plastic products per year, or over five per cent of Canadian manufacturing sales, according to a 2019 report published by the federal government.  

Seaman says Canadian plastic producers have competitive advantages that position them to grow as demand rises at home and abroad. In Alberta, a key opportunity is the abundant supply of natural gas used to make plastic resin.  

“As industry and consumer expectations shift for production to reduce emissions, Canada, and particularly Alberta, are extremely well placed to meet increased demand thanks to its supply of low-carbon feedstock. Going forward, production with less emissions is going to be important for companies,” Seaman says.  

“You can see that with Dow Chemical’s decision to spend $8.8 billion on a net zero facility in Alberta.” 

While modern life would not be possible without plastics, the CIAC says there needs to be better post-use management of plastic products including advanced recycling, or a so-called “circular economy” where plastics are seen as a resource or feedstock for new products, not a waste. 

Some companies have already started making significant investments to generate recyclable plastics.  

For example, Inter Pipeline Ltd.’s $4.3 billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex near Edmonton started operating in 2023. It produces a recyclable plastic called polypropylene from propane, with 65 per cent lower emissions than the global average thanks to the facility’s integrated design. 

Achieving a circular economy – where 90 per cent of post-consumer plastic waste is diverted or recycled – would benefit Canada’s economy, according to the CIAC.  

Deloitte study, commissioned by Environment & Climate Change Canada, estimated diverting or reusing 90 per cent of post-consumer plastic waste by 2030 will save $500 million annually while creating 42,000 direct and indirect jobs. It would also cut Canada’s annual CO2 emissions by 1.8 megatonnes.  

Right now, about 85 per cent of plastics end up in Canada’s landfills. To reach the 90 per cent diversion rate, Seaman says Canada must improve its infrastructure to collect and process the plastic waste currently being landfilled. 

But she also says the industry rather than municipalities need to take responsibility for recycling plastic waste.  

“This concept is referred to as extended producer responsibility. Municipalities have the responsibility for managing recycling within a waste management system. Given the competing costs and priorities, they don’t have the incentive to invest into recycling infrastructure when landfill space was the most cost-effective solution for them,” she says.  

“Putting that responsibility on the producers who put the products on the market makes the most sense…The industry is adapting, and we hope government policy will recognize this opportunity for Canada to meet our climate goals while growing our economy.” 

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