Hundreds of cigarette butts cleared from campus

Saturday September 17 was World Cleanup Day. A day meant to clean up your neighborhood. Mayya Izmailova, student of IE&IS decided to do that at the TU/e campus, specifically around Luna, where she lives. Cursor tagged along. In roughly an hour and a half, many pieces of plastic, beer caps, cans, a condom and hundreds of cigarette butts were collected. The latter is remarkable, as TU/e is a smoke-free campus.

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photo Bridget Alcione Spoor

Armed with bags, a bucket and gloves, we go out around Luna. Izmailova was eager to do something to clean up her immediate environment. “I live and study here, so I walk here every day. All this junk is already a thorn in my side, but especially the cigarette butts bother me.”

By cleaning up you suddenly see a lot of waste that you normally don't notice. Cigarette butts are literally in every crevice between the tiles in front of Luna, Hubble and around supermarket Spar, as well as in and under the bushes. “They're so hard to clean up because they move in between spots easily and they're so small,” Izmailova says. “Some of them have been drawn into the ground already.” In addition to the butts, there are a lot of beer caps, bags of 'Unox hotdog sauce' and plastic packaging.

Not yet a smoke-free campus

When we turn over the bucket of butts after our cleaning session to see the yield, the air released is indescribable. It's like inhaling an amount of cigarette smoke for a whole year at once. Izmailova thinks that people are throwing cigarette butts on the ground so massively and easily because they don't see them as waste. "People think 'oh those are so small, it doesn't matter'. Then I think; you don't just throw away the packaging of your sandwich or fruit on the street with the same ease, do you now? Besides, this is supposed to be a smoke-free campus, a policy I support a 100 percent. But look around: the cigarettes are everywhere. They did not just end up there by themselves, people still smoke a lot here.” Her point got proven easily during the one and a half hour cleaning session: Cursor saw at least eight people smoking in front of Luna and around Spar during that time.

“I don't mind if you choose to smoke, that's your personal choice,” Izmailova says. “But you do have to take responsibility for that choice. And that includes cleaning up the cigarette butts and not littering nature or bothering your neighbor with the waste and smoke. This is especially important with all the children who play here (referring to the daycare center in Luna with a playground outside, ed.). But also for the animals and the soil, we can't allow them to get polluted.”

In addition to Izmailova's initiative, the Vegan Student Association of the TU/e also organized a clean-up tour through the center of Eindhoven. Many others worldwide took a garbage bag as well and cleaned up their own neighborhood.

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