No Butts!

Sue Kalab

A Song for Trees & Rain

Be still my heart

These great trees are prayers

Rabindranath Tagore (Indian Poet & Mystic C19th)

The Earth is alive

Planetary spirit. Life

All of life

One organism

The Chain of Being is larger

Bigger. More encompassing

A Greater Wholeness

Trees give birdsong, rain and shelter

This is my Song for Trees & Rain

Sue Kalab – Nature Artist1998 No Butts for our beaches -Sue Kalab

1998 No Butts for our Beaches campaign – Dolphin Discovery Centre

 Cigarette Butts – a universal problem.

For many years I have been picking up rubbish in the bush wherever I walk – bush or beach.

For the first seven years when I came to Bunbury I was a volunteer at the Dolphin Discovery Centre, a place where wild dolphins come in to the beach to interact with people. The dolphins have been coming there regularly since January 1990.

It is a not-for-profit organisation operated largely by volunteers and it is extremely popular with visitors from all over Australia and the world.

One summer morning in 20 minutes along the high tide line at the Dolphin Beach, I picked up many butts and I took them home to count. It was surprising that there were 202! This many, over about 400 metres of beach. That was an average of one butt every 2 metres. Too many!   However people laughed at me!

I was aware of the hazardous materials they represented, especially if swallowed by a curious marine creature. Dolphin calves are famous for their playful, inquisitive natures and it was easy to imagine the risks of ingestion of these poisons in a gut clearly not designed to process butts (and other forms of marine debris, which continues to threaten).

I put them in a jar, and made a simple statement what they were and where they came from, and they became part of my 1998 solo show at the Bunbury Regional Art Galleries, “Bunbury – Bush & Beach”. This went on display in the Centre for years.

I next made up little disposable pocket ashtrays to give away using recycled film canisters from photography shops around town. I designed a polite, cheerful little label asking smokers to consider the impact that dumping cigarette butts has in our natural environment.

At first there was resistance from other volunteers, as it was early days for consciousness to change for the better, besides, they were culprits too!

I persisted and with several like-minded women volunteers developed a project to encourage thoughtful cigarette butt disposal.

I also organized a collection of butts found on the beach that summer.   We filled 2 x 2.5 litre plastic fruit juice bottles with thousands of butts which went on display at the Centre with an information label in the education section, in the “Rubbish on our Beaches” corner.

We put the dolphin ashtrays at the main entrance. Many thousands have been distributed.

That was in the early days of raising awareness of the hazards of cigarette butts. Now, smokers generally have the message, but sadly the days of rubbish dumping in our oceans are far from over. It’s a good feeling however to have helped to make a difference, as my campaign idea was adopted in other places too.

Sue Kalab, Nature Artist

 

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