A local dad has lashed out at litterbugs after spending three hours removing thousands of cigarette butts from a green space used by children.
Personal trainer Cameron Elliott had been heading to Elizabeth Castle with his two young children when he noticed litter and cigarette butts strewn across Jardins de la Mer gardens, which had been the site of the Portuguese Fair just last week.
So disgusted was he with the state of the park that he opted to carry his children across it, rather than letting them go by foot, before returning hours later to help rectify the problem. In the end, he said he collected "over 5,000 cigarette butts", but said that he "could have probably kept on going" for several hours more.
Video: Some of the cigarette butts Cameron found at Jardins de la Mer. (Cameron Elliott)
In a video documenting his efforts posted to Facebook, which generated hundreds of likes and comments, Cameron explains: “I took my kids to Elizabeth Castle this afternoon and we had to walk across this green patch of land from the car park to the Puddle Ducks and it was absolutely disgusting. So disgusting I didn’t want to put my boy on the floor to walk across.”
Showing viewers a bag full of the cigarette butts and other bits of litter, he continues: “The amount of cigarette butts, dangerous pieces of plastic and broken plastic glass in there. Portuguese Fair last weekend - I’m sure that event made enough money or profit to pay someone for a few hours following it just to keep Jersey clean.”
In a call for action, he concluded: “It’s events like this that really ruin our island when it’s not tidied after and it’s only going to get worse if we don’t make a difference now.”
Cameron wasn’t the only parent to raise concerns.
Pictured: Cameron's haul after collecting litter for three hours.
One mother replied to his video: “My son was playing in the maze with his friend last Sunday and was soooo excited to find good few pieces of shattered beer bottles. Luckily he asked me to check out “his treasure” before he cut himself. Loads of children walk through the maze and around the fountain barefooted.
“People are so careless and have no consideration towards others, regardless of the event... but when this happens in such a popular public place, more care should be given to the “afterparty” clean up. Well done you!!”
Backing Cameron’s fight against litterbugs, another commenter said: “So ashamed of some of our fellow humans, this should just not happen, everyone should dispose of their litter, all of it! If they feel they can’t find the right place, take it home with them.”
The harmful health effects of smoking might be well-known, but cigarette butts can also cause environmental problems by releasing toxins into water and harming marine life.
Pictured: Toxins in cigarette butts can be harmful to marine life.
Cigarette butts contain cellulose acetate – a form of plastic that can take up to twelve years to degrade. The butts leak toxins that contaminate water, harming marine life and the environment. Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures who mistake them for food.
Cameron’s efforts were therefore unexpectedly lauded and awarded by Le Mourier Marine, who offered his family a dolphin-watching trip as thanks “for being so community-minded and hopefully we can all enjoy some time in our marine habitat - no less under threat by the thoughtlessness of some people.”
Express asked the States of Jersey Development Company, which is responsible for the area, what cleaning measures are currently in place and whether anything will be done to tackle the litter problem. They declined to comment.
This latest awareness push about the scourge of cigarette butts comes following the launch of a campaign by the Parish of St. Helier in December last year, urging islanders to ‘bag their butts’ to keep the town centre clean.
Pictured: The Parish of St. Helier are offering islanders 'mini bin' pouches to store their cigarette butts as part of a campaign launched last December.
As part of the campaign, signs reminding islanders that "cigarette buds are litter too" have been displayed on the parish's road sweeping vehicles, while special pouches are being provided free to smokers and gum chewers to make sure their litter is disposed of responsibly.
The Environment Minister, Deputy John Young, has also labelled the issue a “priority” for his department.
In a Scrutiny hearing last autumn, he described the threat posed by cigarette butts as needing to be taken as seriously as that of single-use plastic.
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.