AFTER a heavy night drinking while living in Australia, Ben Cattell tossed a cigarette butt off his balcony and promptly fell asleep.
When the now Mallorca-based Brit woke a short time later, firefighters were arriving to put out his neighbours’ blazing shed, connected to the smoke-filled home where the family with children were sleeping.
Although no one found out he started the fire, that was the beginning of Ben’s journey to be an environmentally responsible citizen.
This passion has now led to him launching his own cigarette dispenser system, which is gaining worldwide attention.
Originally from Haslemere in England, Ben, 25, and his girlfriend moved to Mallorca 18 months ago, attracted in particular to its beautiful scenery.
While walking the dog at beauty spot Es Carnatge he couldn’t help but notice the rubbish, plastic and cigarette butts littering the paths and beaches.
“Every piece of litter would bug me,” Ben tells the Olive Press. “And being British, it’s our God-given right to complain about everything,” he continues adding though that complaining often gets you nowhere.
“You either get used to it, or you do something about it,” he adds.
One day while on a camping trip in the south of the island, he was shocked with the amount of rubbish.
He picked up a large bag and filled it with waste. That is also the moment he whipped out his phone, took a photo and created the growing instagram account, The_Litter Bug.
Ben returned to his local village in Playa de Palma and started the ‘Ciggy Trap Challenge’ by making home-made butt bins out of plastic bottles that now hang near bus stops and beach entrances.
“People put cigarette butts on the ground every second of every day,” says the former smoker.
“I personally owe the Earth nine years of cigarette butts.”
So far, Ben has put up almost 30 homemade cigarette dispensers all along the south-east coastline, many of which are of bright colours and have catchy phrases.
His target is to put up 100 ‘ciggy traps’ by the end of the year.
Between the homemade traps and the hours he spends each week cleaning the beaches, parks and paths, Ben has picked up at least 15 litres of cigarettes butts since he started the campaign.
The traps have the hashtag #CiggyTrapChallege which encourage others to post themselves on instagram using the cigarette disposal bins.
Ben has had both locals and people across the globe following his account and posting their bags of rubbish and ciggy traps to him.
A California woman with the handle BeachinBagLady on instagram is one of his favourite beach rubbish accounts to follow.
“It’s not a political issue, everyone agrees that plastic bags don’t belong on the beach,” Ben continues.
He is also careful to only be light-hearted and even humorous with his posts and trap slogans.
In both English and Spanish, he makes sure he doesn’t shame people, but rather uses wit. Keep an eye out for bottles reading; ‘I’m an ash tree, not an ash tray,’ hanging from a tree nearby.
“I’m a big believer in practising what you preach, and that’s how The Litter Bug started, lead by example,” Ben adds. His goal is to inspire people, ‘to spend just one or two hours a week to make the world a better place, whatever that means to each individual person.’