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Patrulha da Beata

November 17th marked “World Non-Smoking Day”. To commemorate this day, “Patrulha da Beata” was created for a slightly different activity

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes and 33 seconds

© Helder Berenguer

Walk down a street and notice the cigarette butts on the cracks of the Portuguese sidewalk or lay down your towel on the beach and see that, before us, there was a smoker in that place who left us a “souvenir”. Many of us have already encountered these scenarios or witnessed a similar situation. And why?

Tobacco consumption in Portugal, as in the rest of the world, is considered the main cause of preventable death. According to 2018 data from the National Observatory of Respiratory Diseases, tobacco is responsible for the deaths of 32 people daily.

In addition to the direct impact on health, tobacco or, more correctly, cigarettes and butts, represent one of the greatest sources of environmental pollution. They are highly toxic, containing chemicals such as nicotine, arsenic and lead that contaminate the water. They are light and mobile and can easily be dragged by the wind and rain into the rainwater circuits, for example through the gutters. The same rainwater that, unable to be properly processed by treatment systems, ends up in rivers, oceans and beaches, along with the thousands of butts they carry.

Butts take more than five years to decompose when left on the ground and, in addition, can also be ingested by terrestrial or marine animals, which can lead to suffocation and death of these living beings. So, yesterday, November 21st, the members of Agora Aveiro rolled up their sleeves and, early in the morning, they walked the streets of Aveiro with the aim of collecting as many butts as possible.

This was our way of marking “World Non-Smoking Day”, contributing to decrease the number of butts in public spaces in our city. At the end of just one and a half hour, the Patrulha collected 5295 butts in the areas of Praça Dr. Joaquim de Melo Freitas, Fórum Aveiro, Praça da República and surroundings. There are 5295 butts that will not stop at the oceans or get lost in the corners of the city. There are 5295 butts that will have an appropriate end and will not contribute to the growing state of pollution that we face today!

Many people approached us, congratulating us on the initiative and reporting situations of lack of civility, which they themselves encountered. We hope that this intervention, however small it may be, helps to raise the community's awareness of the need for a change in attitudes.

Special thanks to the BioLiving Association, which helped us with the necessary materials and equipment and in the collection action itself. The collected butts are also being forwarded by them, so that the appropriate treatment is applied and that they have their due end.

The action of collecting butts, part of the “Patrulha da Beata” initiative, is part of the “Guerrilla Division” project. It was accomplished in partnership with the BioLiving Association and the Rede Biatakí and had the support of the Municipality of Aveiro and IPDJ - Instituto Português do Desporto e Juventude I.P..

Vânia Martins