In 2021, 160 young people (ages 18-30) formed Ocean Wise’s Ocean Bridge program. This national team is engaged in co-creating and delivering ocean and waterway projects for their communities. This blog highlights a service project from 2021 ambassador Yasmin Schepens on bringing awareness to cigarette butt litter.
Yasmin Schepens is an Ocean Bridge alum who loves being in nature and capturing the beauty of it through her photography. For several years she has been picking up litter in her neighbourhood on a regular basis. Through this she has met numerous people in her community and has inspired others to pick up litter as well. On her clean ups she noticed lots of cigarette butts and wanted to create awareness around this form of littering. You can follow her litter pickup adventures here.
Combatting Cigarette Butt Litter
We often get bombarded with negative news and it’s overwhelming. Sometimes, we just don’t want to be confronted with sad news about climate change, global warming, overfishing, pollution, etc. I have noticed that humor attracts people’s curiosity and transmits a clear message without overwhelming them. That’s why for my service project I decided to create a poster that is humoristic and ignites curiosity. I wanted to reach a large group of people from various backgrounds, especially those who are unaware of cigarette butt litter and the effects on our environment.
To get inspiration, I was looking at ocean-related movie posters and came across the poster of Baywatch. Quickly, I came up with the idea to name it Buttwatch. I visualized people littering their cigarette butts and the “buttwatch rescue crew” would be running towards them with litter pickers and buckets.
I found a great Transit shelter advertising program offered by the City of Vancouver where they offer free access to transit shelter advertising space for non-profit arts and culture organizations. I thought that this would be the perfect way to help spread my message on bringing awareness to cigarette butt litter and reach lots of people.
My poster will be up in 10 transit shelters in the City of Vancouver from August 15 till September 4. I would love it if people could take photos with the BUTTWATCH poster and share it on social media with #buttwatch2022 . The poster also has a QR-code that will bring you to a website I created with more information about what you can do to help.
I want to inspire others to make a positive impact on our environment, and I believe that lasting changes come from intrinsic motivation, so my goal is to ignite that motivation in other people. So far, I have been able to make little changes in my community. From reducing the cigarette butt litter, to organizing and participating in beach cleanups, to now creating and sharing this poster.
I love and care for our planet and love to connect people with the beauty of nature. I do this by taking photos and sharing them with the world. As part of this initiative, I was able to use my own photographs and design the logo. Bringing together two of my passions was very fun and I enjoyed this project very much.