Small Actions, Big Crimes

A program aiming to prevent the dumping of cigarette butts in the marine environment

The program “Small Actions, Big Crimes” is an innovative initiative for the environment implemented in the area of Rafina in collaboration with the Municipality of Rafina-Pikermi, the Committee for the Sustainable Environment of Rafina – Pikermi, the Rafina Port Authority and the support of British American Tobacco. It combines research work and awareness actions to combat reckless disposal of cigarette butts while it also aims to collect real data on the disposal of cigarette butts in the marine environment, highlight good practices that will promote the development of evidence-based proposals, raise public awareness and leverage a change in the public’s behavior patterns towards more sustainable practices.

Art installation

The start of the project was marked by the establishment of an original installation in the central square of Rafina, which remained there for three months. The installation was a real “crime scene” in which, next to the victims from the marine environment, such as fish and turtles, a realistic copy of a giant cigarette was placed, in order to raise public awareness for the protection of the environment.

Satellite mapping of congested areas

For the first time in Greece, measurements were made through advanced satellite systems to capture the points where the problem of reckless disposal of cigarette butts was identified. According to the measurements, the beaches and the port of Rafina were identified as the areas mostly burdened with cigarette butts’ litter.

Installation of special bins (ashtrays) and signage

In order to prevent the reckless dumping of cigarette butts in the environment, special bins (ashtrays) were placed in 20 central points of the town of Rafina, the port and on several beaches as well as special signage which informs the public over the negative effects of cigarette butts ending up in the marine environment. The information collected provide us with important data on the impact of our intervention.

The first results of the project!

According to the first extracted data, within the first six months, there was a significant reduction of 62% in the number of cigarette butts discarded on the ground in the Rafina area while the collectors (bins) that were installed contributed to the collection of more than 17,000 cigarette butts. The data presented also included relative percentage changes in cigarette butt dumping in the city’s hotspots and beaches as captured by the satellite measurements that were carried out. At the same time, the findings of the qualitative research aiming to capture how the local community feels about the effectiveness of the program were also communicated. Based on these, it appears that 93% of the participants believe that the program will offer significant benefits in the region while 57% of them state that the program should be extended to other areas of Rafina.