The destructive impact of cigarette butts on the environment
Today at 2pm, Mathieu, Lucas, Chloé and Louise, the 4 founders of “0 mégot” will cross the finish line of their extraordinary challenge: swimming down the Seine from Paris to Deauville, a distance of 380 km.
Why take up such a challenge? To raise awareness of the destructive impact of cigarette butts on the environment and the ocean, by tracing the path of a cigarette butt, which from a manhole will inevitably end up in the sea.
Last Saturday, May 28, they organized in Paris the largest collection of cigarette butts to mark the departure of their expedition. The World record was beaten, with more than 855 000 butts collected. An initiative supported by the Surfrider Foundation and in which our co-founder, Simon Bernard, took part.
On the eve of the final sprint, we had the opportunity to interview Matthieu Witvoet, the tireless eco-adventurer and founder of the project, and long-time supporter of Plastic Odyssey. We thank him for answering our questions and for sharing with us great unpublished photos of their adventure!
When was the project born? How did you meet with the team?
“The project was born in January 2020 and was formed as a family! Indeed, in the team we have Lucas who is my little brother, Chloe my girlfriend, Louise her cousin and myself.”
Why the cigarette butt ?
“For 32 years it is the first waste that we find in the oceans and in quantity. Every minute, 40,000 cigarette butts end up on the ground in France.
In contact with water, it releases a large number of pollutants and is harming marine biodiversity. But the gesture to reduce this pollution is not complicated, we just need to throw it in the trash.”
Isn’t it dangerous to swim in the Seine where swimming is normally forbidden?
“Indeed, there are some dangers! That’s why we prepared ourselves for a year, and why we had specific vaccinations before the challenge. During the challenge, we have to take specific showers after each swim and we have a medical follow-up”.
Have you experienced bad surprises during the race?
“At the beginning everything went very well, until the 200th kilometer. But from Rouen, the Seine Maritime authorities told us that we were not allowed to swim. So we were escorted for 100 km by the police in a kayak and we will be able to swim again at the end of the journey”.
What is your next challenge?
The crossing of the Titicaca lake in November, with the swimmers Théo Curin and Marie Metella.
Are you supporting an initiative which is recycling cigarette butts?
Yes! The 855,000 cigarette butts that were collected last Saturday will be transformed into awareness-raising leaflets that will be distributed throughout Paris.
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