The numerous toxins that we humans deposit in the ocean (via gutters/storm drains), include cigarette stubs. “Within an hour of contact with water, cigarette butts can begin leaching chemicals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic into the marine environment,” says TreeHugger.com (see: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/10/cigarette_butts.php
). “And that's not counting for the fact they also end up in in the intestines of 'fish, whales, birds and other marine animals'.”
Mary of the weekly Echo Park Peace Vigil is a smoker but also careful with her trash. “In Spain they give you portable ashtrays in the shape of an ice cream cone,” she said. “So when you go to the beach, you just stick your portable ashtray into the sand, and you can smoke away all you want, but you won't get the beach littered with cigarette butts.
“. . . I figured that when I came back to this country I was going to get harassed because of all my smoking. So I thought, 'Well, at least I'm not going to throw my cigarette butts onto the ground.' So I started off with an empty band-aid box. That broke, and my friend [in Spain] saw me with my band-aid box and decided to get me the portable beach ashtray. So for all you smokers out there, if you don't want to litter, you just get an old-fashioned, metallic band-aid box. You can stick it in your purse and use it for a portable ashtray.”
Unfortunately, Mary's imported portable ashtray only lasted about a year, but she got replacements. “It broke over a year's time,” she continued, “So I e-mailed her [before my next trip], and then she brought me four. I gave three of them away to fellow smokers [laughs] here in the United States.”
Elsewhere in L.A., a participant of the weekly Eagle Rock Peace Vigil, while not a smoker, collects discarded cigarette butts and uses the tobacco to keep aphids away from plants.