Section: Opinion

Column: Pick up your cigarette butts

Before all the NYC natives and grunge-band groupies take up arms to attack me, I would like to make it very clear that this article is not anti-cigarette. They’re not my cup of tea, but I don’t have anything against them, and I’ll be the first to admit that, lung health be damned, cigarettes look cool as hell. But, they only look cool in certain contexts (e.g., in the crimson-lipsticked mouth of a hot girl). One place they definitely don’t look cool is lying littered on the ground, and unfortunately, that’s where I see them the most.

Come on, guys. You know better. You saw those Smokey Bear PSAs. You had “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” posters plastered on the walls of your middle school. You reposted climate change infographics on your Instagram story during your 2020 activism kick. The average Kenyon student is well aware of environmental issues. So why does the ground outside Chalmers Library resemble the floor of a gas station bathroom?

I implore the Kenyon smoking community: Acquaint yourselves with the various trash cans located around campus. And yes, I know how much of an ordeal that can be. I could write an entire article about how inaccessible waste receptacles are here on campus. Kenyon has criminally few trash cans and even fewer recycling bins. Frankly, students should get an honorary classics degree for finding one in the labyrinth that is Ascension Hall. But just because Kenyon isn’t good at environmentalism doesn’t mean that the student body can’t be. I know that those elusive trash cans can be difficult to find, but I promise they’re out there.

Before all you vapers leave feeling morally superior, let me be clear: Just because you’re not leaving a trail of cigarette butts in your wake like a 21st-century Hansel or Gretel doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. I’ve seen far too many abandoned Juul pods lying forgotten in the grass. At this rate, the poor squirrels are going to starve to death after collecting them instead of acorns.

Unfortunately, nicotine-related paraphernalia is far from the only litter around campus. Beer cans, condom wrappers, those red plastic cups you kleptomaniacs keep stealing from Peirce ­— Kenyon might as well be renamed the Knox County Landfill. No wonder we have so many raccoons. Something clearly needs to change. There are long-term solutions to this problem, but they require funding and committees and all sorts of other bureaucratic red tape, and if there’s one thing this school loves, it’s avoiding making incremental change at all costs. So, let’s start small and return to cigarettes.

Here’s the long and short of it: Whether you’re smoking electric or acoustic style, you’ve got trash to dispose of, and Kenyon does not have very many trash cans. My short term solution is that if you don’t want to trek to a trash can for each and every cigarette that you chain smoke, you should swallow your pride and start carrying around a plastic baggie for your butts. Then, when you finally find yourself in the general vicinity of one of Kenyon’s occasional trash cans, you can cleanly dispose of all your waste at once.

Yes, carrying a small plastic bag while wearing an artsy sweater vest might make you look like Walter White, but it’s a small sacrifice to make for saving the planet.

Dorothy Yaqub ’26 is a columnist for the Collegian. She has not declared a major and is from Santa Barbara, Calif. She can be reached at yaqub1@kenyon.edu

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