Ullapool Sea Savers inspire communities across Europe with their drain campaign
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Young climate activists from Ullapool, the Sea Savers, have spent the summer pushing their 'Drain Campaign' to raise awarness of the toxicity of cigarette butts that end up down a drain – and into the water system.
Over the summer, the Sea Savers have been busy adding lettering around Ullapool drains, with the slogan 'THE SEA STARTS HERE, PLEASE DON'T LITTER', using biodegradable chalk spray paint which will wash off and stencils.
The Drain Campaign first started last summer, after the Sea Savers found out some shocking information about litter.
Ullapool Sea Savers' representatives Silas, Calum and Finlay said:"We found out that cigarette butts are the most littered item in the UK, but a lot of people don't realise that they are litter, they contain really toxic things like arsenic and lead.
"We got in touch with a local girl called Megan who has her own campaign called 'No Ifs No Butts', and she gave us lots of information, like how the cigarette butt is the most littered item in the world, and that a single cigarette butt can intoxicate a whole litre of water.
"Litter goes into the drain and straight into the sea. A lot of people think its not really an issue – that its only in the comics that the drain directly leads to the sea, or that there are people underground who work to clean the drainage, but that's not true. People don't realise that their litter and cigarette butts do go into the sea, and pollutes it."
The Sea Saver's Drain Campaign is their biggest campaign yet, with global popularity online. The campaign has inspired communites across the UK, and even as far as Portugal, to do the same.
"We gave Megan from 'No Ifs No Butts' a ballot bin, where people can vote on yes/no questions with their cigarette butts, so the cigarette butts don't go into the sea. This was a gift from the Sea Savers to Megan. Megan isn't a Sea Saver, this is more of a local community partnership supported by the Harbour Trust which we are quite proud of!
"But something we want to make quite clear: we're not saying don't smoke or that smoking is bad, this is more about what you do with your cigarette, and disposing of it responsibly. We're not telling people what to do – apart from throwing cigarette butts in the drains! We try to be as constructive as possible, not just telling people that they're wrong – we want to show them an amazing alternative that they could do instead!"