Op-ed | Let’s talk about butts
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 08:10
The Tisch Library patio has a history of agricultural planting. In the summer of 2011, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (NESFP) planted an intensive small-scale vegetable garden in the space, producing plentiful eggplants, corn and herbs. This impressive proof-of-concept installation not only showed the Tufts community what could be grown in such a small space, but also successfully helped publicize what NESFP is all about. NESFP just finished running “World Peas,” a well-subscribed to, successful summer Community Supported Agriculture project that they delivered to Tufts Institute of the Environment. There were no plans to continue planting crops in the space for the summer of 2012.
This past spring, the area was slated for replanting with only ornamental flora. Wanting to maintain the urban agricultural theme that had made the patio an attraction, the student group Tom Thumb’s Student Garden (TTSG) cooperated with individuals from Facilities Services and Tisch Library to gain access to the raised beds.
In exchange for the space, TTSG agreed to cultivate the soil there to produce a thriving herb garden and make the beautification of the library patio both functional and aesthetically pleasing. In the spring, many members of the club planted, and a rotation of four or five students maintained the garden during the summer months. Plantings included basil, oregano, thyme, sage, scallions and some errant tomato and tomatillo plants that didn’t find a home. Tom Thumb’s actual garden is located beside the community garden between South Hall and Latin Way. Work during the summer included regular watering, thinning, weeding and trellising.
However, a menace lurked. An invasion of foreign, poisonous cigarette butts took root in the soil among shoots of intrepid basil and sage. The raised beds soon became riddled with these butts. A growing heap of cigarette refuse now clutters the space, despite the efforts of Tom Thumb’s gardeners and other community members to occasionally clean it. Smokers who choose to sit or stand near the gardens — perhaps while appreciating the vegetative glory — sometimes choose to simply dump their butts on the spot, rather than walk the seven or so steps required to reach the cigarette receptacle that is provided for their convenience.
Tufts’ official policy completely bans smoking indoors. The Office of Residential Life and Learning enforces this rule, but also states that smoking may not occur within 20 feet of residential halls. This guideline is in place in order to protect the health of residents by ensuring that smoke does not waft into open windows. As Tisch is not a residential space for most students — except during midterms and finals periods — this rule does not apply there. To accommodate smokers and reduce litter, Tufts supplies cigarette disposal containers by the front doors of Tisch, which may be the most popular smoking spot on campus.
Like any form of littering, cigarette butts are detrimental to the health of the environment and to the beauty of our surroundings. To throw butts around so recklessly shows disrespect to the community that we all strive to improve. Somebody planted the seeds, watered the shoots and staked the full-grown plants to maintain order in the beds. The gardens there represent student work, supported by Tufts. Persistent butts have overwhelmed sporadic efforts to clean the space. Give Tom Thumb a break. Stick butts where they belong.
Think of the oregano.
Seriously, we’re running out of thyme.
Michael Rogove is a senior majoring in biology. He can be reached at Michael.Rogove@tufts.edu. Sam Zollman is a sophomore majoring in environmental studies. He can be reached at Samuel.Zollman@tufts.edu.