Here in Santa Cruz in the Galapagos, they don’t allow you to put your dinghy ashore so you catch a water taxi in and out from your yacht. We’re fine with that as it supports the local economy and means we don’t come back to find a sea lion asleep in our tender or pelican droppings all over it. At the end of the jetty, the first thing you see when you enter the island, there is a little stand where Miquel stands most days, promoting his ‘Nicotine Assassin Program’
Now some of you may have already turned off at the thought of another person telling you that smoking kills, but read on, there is more to this than what you think. I met Miquel as I saw his statues of a bird, a man and a woman with a large poster about not throwing your cigarette butts on the street. Next to these were 3 large bags filled with cigarette butts. He was selling T-Shirts to help raise funds to keep his campaign going.
I was fascinated with this small man and what he did. My Spanish is non existent but his English was O.K. We managed to talk about several things. First and foremost was that he has 20 of these large plastic bags in his shed full of cigarette butts collected over just 2 years in the main streets of Santa Cruz. All drains from town lead straight into the pristine waters that we have come to dive in, that house some of the most unique and majestic creatures on earth. I asked him if it was tourists or locals and he said it was a 50/50 split in his opinion.
From his website I found quite an inspiring quote ‘My program was born thinking about those that are yet to be born.’ His current tally board reads at 430,661 cigarettes collected. To put this in perspective, the population of Santa Cruz is 3,000. His website also has a quote that the toxins in each cigarette can contaminate 1 cubic meter of water.
So how does he do it? ‘Every morning I walk the streets of my beloved Puerto Ayora, picking up cigarette butts that unthinking “bad” smokers have left in the street. (Good smokers remember to not throw the cigarette butts on the ground, excellent smokers don’t smoke at all.)’
He is entirely self funded and wants to spread his message across to the remaining 4 inhabited islands in the Galapagos. I hope you will find this little article inspiring and will do your part by picking up cigarette butts you see or better still, make a small donation, buy his book or a t-shirt and help Miquel out. Just visit his website for more details.
Please visit his website to find out more http://www.programanicotinaasesina.com/home.html
Please also like his campaign on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Miguicho.Nicotina.Asesina/timeline