Profile: Youth Making a Difference
Allie, Amy, and David Steinmetz and the "No Butts About it Litter Campaign"
“I hope it's the new hair-color-changing Barbie doll,”
Allie thought as she finally got her frantic fingers on the holiday gift
that she and her two siblings - her twin sister Amy and her younger brother
Dave - had all just received from their parents. As we all unwrapped the
shiny paper, however, our hearts sank to discover an anticlimactic piece
of paper in place of a stylish, fun, new Barbie doll - or for Dave, a
new car model. As the boring black type finally commanded our disappointed
attention, we realized that our parents had registered us as an adopt-a-shore
family, which meant that we were responsible for cleaning up an assigned
portion of the beach four times each year. Our new sense of responsibility
immediately replaced the childish whims of the doll and toy world. We
could never have known just how huge an impact this one present would
have on the rest of our lives and on the environment.
We sent this drawing to our mayor, who immediately implemented
it as a hand-out when beach visitors passed through the gatehouse. During
a one-month trial period, it was easy to see that the cigarette butt litter
greatly declined. The posters became a permanent fixture, and wearing
handmade "“No Butts About It” " t-shirts dripping
with 'mistake' globs of paint, we each proudly shook the Mayor of Boca
Raton's hand at a city council meeting that celebrated the project.
When a person is motivated to take action, no matter how young or old, he can change the world. The students of a school in Hamden, Connecticut drew their own awareness posters for earth day; the Parks and Recreation Department in Georgia, as well as the National Parks Service in Acadia, Maine, use “No Butts About It” to clean their beautiful terrain; Clean Virginia Waterways has handed out our materials to tens of thousands of visitors; an individual in upstate New York has made her jeep club more aware; a third grader has informed his classmates; international collaborations are creating a united front to tackle cigarette butt litter; teachers and CEO?, insurance agents and park rangers, students and leaders of international campaigns, boy scouts and restaurant owners, landlords and presidents of non-profit organizations, and all types of individuals have helped make “No Butts About It” a success throughout the world. Hanging our poster, handing out our fact sheet, creating a presentation or original poster, conducting a clean-up, or simply learning about the problem and making one friend aware helps. Each person can make a difference by acting. The common sight of one tiny littered cigarette butt motivated us to change an unacceptable and harmful habit. We haven't stopped, and we are making a difference. You can, too!