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More people throwing trash from car windows?
September 2, 2005 1:15 PM   Subscribe

CigaretteFilter -- Lately I notice a LOT more pig-people throwing cigarette butts and other trash from their car windows. Is it just me noticing? If not, WTF?
posted by ZenMasterThis to Society & Culture (24 answers total)
 
Whoa. What do these pig-people look like? Do they come in peace?
posted by xmutex at 1:17 PM on September 2, 2005


It may be just you noticing -- I take a pleasure flipping people off that throw trash out their windows. Of course, I flip off Hummer drivers as well. My middle finger is getting tired.

Remember pull-top on soda cans? I remember road sides being a prime place to fashion pull-top necklaces. Of course, you had to pull them out of mounds of discarded cigarette butts, but hey -- free necklace!
posted by thanotopsis at 1:19 PM on September 2, 2005


Somewhat unassociated comment: my family went camping for a week in Algonquin Park. They have an incentive program for kids where the kids get buttons/pins if they help clean up a beach/campsite/trail.

I have discovered that if you look hard enough, you can find cigarette butts everywhere. Apparently the damn things don't degrade. An entire freaking tree will turn into dirt before a cigarette butt. And you find them in some pretty remote places too.

Not too rag on smokers any more than they've already been ragged on, but people, seriously, take a little care. You carried the pack of smokes a few kilometers in on the trail - is it so hard to bring the damn butt back with you?
posted by GuyZero at 1:20 PM on September 2, 2005


Similar ask.mefi thread.

I smoke constantly, and I flick my butts. That said, I roll my owh cigarettes, so my butts do biodegrade. In fact, they quite literally disappear within minutes in a rainstorm.
posted by Netzapper at 1:49 PM on September 2, 2005


In recent years, I notice that there's been an increase in secret smokers. Also, since you can't smoke in most workplaces and many people don't want to (or are asked not to) smoke at home, the car has become the smoker's place of refuge. But butts smell terrible when they sit in a car ashtray for a few days. And, if you're a secret smoker, they're a dead giveaway. When I was in college and sneaking my cigs, I'd borrow my parents' car and flick my butts out the window all the time. Yes, it's pretty environmentally rotten and gross. And I do wonder if brush fires ever get started that way.
posted by Miko at 2:00 PM on September 2, 2005


I suppose it depends where you live. In my country, throwing cigarette butts (and smoking) is quite common.

so my butts do biodegrade.
Why don't cigarette manufacturers make (why are they not required to make) biodegradable cigarette filters?

posted by pracowity at 2:02 PM on September 2, 2005


I've been told that if you strip the paper from the filter itself (usually a cottony type subtance) they actually will degrade. at least the paper will, and the cotton should as well.

(i could be wrong on this)
posted by tj at 2:12 PM on September 2, 2005


I see this a lot. Not to generalize too much, but I think it's the smoker attitude of "the world is my ashtray".
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 2:24 PM on September 2, 2005


It's fire season where I live, Netzapper, so thanks for being so thoughtful about that biodegrading crap. My house and all my neighbors homes will biodegrade quite nicely after being burned to the ground by the grass fire you stared biodegrading your butt.
posted by sageleaf at 2:31 PM on September 2, 2005


Miko And I do wonder if brush fires ever get started that way.

Yes. Yes they do. There was a really really bad blaze in Kelowna a couple of years ago - some guy was smoking on his back porch, flicked his butt, saw it smolder, went for a bucket of water, but it was too late. Felt really really awful about it. Lots of damage. To a very large area. To a lot of houses. Very very bad.

I don't have any specific anecdotes for highway fires, though.

posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:45 PM on September 2, 2005


On texas highways in the summer time you'll see long strips of black patches in the dry grass on the side of the road, where a fire started from a cigarette butt. These are *usually* pretty harmless since there is only grass there in the ditch and there is nothing around for miles, but sure, brush fires can start from a cigarette butt. Easily.

I don't know if it's recent or not, but I *often* see people dump stuff out of their car. Actual trash. Soda cans, soft drink cups, bits of paper, whatever they've got that they don't feel like hanging on to. Weird. Where I live there are huge garbage cans on every street corner, that are ostensibly there for people to throw trash into from their cars. This seems unlikely though... you have to be a) in the left turn lane, b) first in line c) close enough to roll your window down and throw trash into them and d) not caring too much about the honks behind you when you are holding up the left turn trying to throw something out.
posted by RustyBrooks at 3:34 PM on September 2, 2005


Your emotions sometimes get trapped into a positive-feedback loop. The more something annoys you, the more you notice it, and the more it annoys you further, etc. Thus your current obsession with butt-flickers.

Note though that I wholeheartedly agree with you: it is quite an obnoxious habit of smokers.
posted by randomstriker at 4:03 PM on September 2, 2005


In recent years, I notice that there's been an increase in secret smokers. Also, since you can't smoke in most workplaces and many people don't want to (or are asked not to) smoke at home, the car has become the smoker's place of refuge.

Add restaurants and bars to your list and - if there is an actual increase in this behavior, it's probably due to a lot of people starting to smoke on their way to a restaurant and on their way home in lieu of standing outside before going in/after leaving.

Also, please keep your politics out of AskMe questions. It is an obnoxious habit, one I'm guilty of from time to time, but I certainly don't appreciate being called a pig-person.
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:21 PM on September 2, 2005


Lately I notice a LOT more pig-people
...
it is quite an obnoxious habit of smokers.

Some smokers. Put away your pitchforks and torches.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:50 PM on September 2, 2005


This pig-person will be thinking of you tomorrow, ZenMasterThis, as she gaily throws butt after butt out of the car window on a long journey north. Aren't there more pressing issues to worry about? Like pig-people who drink and drive? Last I heard, no-one smoked a six-pack, got behind the wheel of a car and ploughed into a school bus.

And why are you picking on pigs? Do they smoke? Do they litter the highways? I think not!
posted by ceri richard at 5:10 PM on September 2, 2005


There's a very simple solution for butt-throwers. Keep a soda can with a little bit of water in the cupholder. Extinguish lit cigarettes by dumping whole butt into water filled can. Upon returning home or after a couple of days, dump can filled with butts and water. It doesn't stink, it's fire-safe, and with no ash tray you don't even look like a smoker. There is even a pleasing extinguishing sound when the butt hits the water.

Counter"argument": But I'll forget it's not a tasty soda and take a drink, thus getting a mouthful of cigarette-butt water.

Rebuttal: Yep, and you'll only do that once. Plus, the real soda won't feel like it has objects in it when you swish it around. And after that first time you will have a nice negative reinforcement to think of if you ever want to quit.
posted by ontic at 8:09 PM on September 2, 2005


Here in semi-desert-sagebrush-and-tumbleweed-land, we have local ordinances that impose huge fines (hundreds of dollars) if you're caught flicking an end from a car. There's a local hotline you can call to turn in the plate number of vehicles if you see someone else do it. It's a real problem, many fires have been started this way, and the citizenry in these parts take fire prevention very, very seriously. The draconian enforcement works, though - you see very few butts at the side of the road.
posted by normy at 8:13 PM on September 2, 2005


There are some silly ass responses here. If you throw cigarette butts out your car window you are a litterbug. Claiming you are not committing murder when you litter is a red herring. Take that fish somewhere else. As for pressing issues, you can only focus on one problem at a time? Seriously? That's too bad.

To answer the question... "Is it just me noticing?" Yes.

Now that you have here's some information about the problem.
posted by ?! at 8:34 PM on September 2, 2005


tj, to make the butts out of cotton would cost too much. They are spun nylon (fancy word for plastic) which does not biodegrade too quickly.
Being an ass as I am; should any of my neighbors leave their brand specific butts around the apt. complex I live in; I usually gather them and place them upon their doorstep. Surprisingly enough, it works.

For vehicles, windshield wipers work well as storage places for tossed butts, as with the outdoor butts; you need to verify the user before acting.
posted by buzzman at 10:09 PM on September 2, 2005


A tangential note (don't crucify me, MeFi purists!) --

A European friend visiting NYC after the no-smoking law passed remarked on the increase in the number of hookers in midtown. He had noticed all the well-dressed women puffing away outside offices, and jumped to the wrong conclusion! (Apparently, he didn't notice that men were smoking too....)
posted by rob511 at 11:24 PM on September 2, 2005


rob511: A European friend visiting NYC after the no-smoking law passed remarked on the increase in the number of hookers in midtown. He had noticed all the well-dressed women puffing away outside offices, and jumped to the wrong conclusion! (Apparently, he didn't notice that men were smoking too....)

Perhaps he's aware that there are male prostitutes, too?
posted by Carol Anne at 6:28 AM on September 3, 2005


Maybe missed the thread, but here's a thought - as a smoker myself:

I've noticed a huge decline in available public ashtrays and trashcans. It almost seems like some municipalities and businesses have decided that they way to decrease smoking is to remove means of disposal. The net effect of this has been more cigarette butts and other trash in the streets and sidewalks. This may be a more urban phenomenon, or it maybe related to budget cuts (the cities no longer can afford to maintain public trashcans.)
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:42 PM on September 3, 2005


I like, and use a variation of Ontic's suggestion. Instead of a soda can I reuse plastic bottles that are used to hold mineral/distilled/filtered water with a little tap water in them.

The screw-on-lid keeps the smell enclosed, and because it's transparent, you can tell it's a disposal container and doesn't actually contain anything potable.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:25 PM on September 3, 2005


Nobody's mentioned the Pig-Person Kramer saved on Seinfeld...
posted by IndigoRain at 10:44 AM on September 4, 2005


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