TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Train urban crows to pick up the number one urban litter item, cigarette butts. Butts cause water quality degradation in local streams.

Cities have crows. City streets have cigarette butts in abundance. If trained crows could clean our streets then there would be water quality benefits, aquatic life benefits and aesthetic benefits. Larger cities have water quality requirements driven by federal Clean Water Act MS4 permits (municipal separate storm sewer system permit) and could likely get credit for cleaning their streets of butt litter and a source of pollution. Someone should do a cost/benefit analysis because I believe cities could use existing funding streams to implement this activity and receive pollution reduction credit under their permits.

Share:
  • Jun 16 2013: Please give crows some credit for having intelligence! Which they do have!!! And they are very selective in what they pick up- mostly shiny objects or food items- which cigarette butts don't fit into any of those categories.
    The best solution is to train humans to pick up their own messes of any sort, and good luck with that!
  • thumb
    Jun 22 2013: Interesting idea, yet make sure the crows also pick up 'fracking & oil drilling crews' just to name some to begin with ... :o)
  • thumb
    Jun 17 2013: well, the time and effort you'd spend training them might be prohibitive, I mean they say the government is already in debt. Also, I presume they would only get one at a time and fly somewhere and deposit it, I think they will quickly grow tired, also they don't like to be down where people are, which is presumably where the butts are. I like that you're thinking innovatively.

    At the apartment complex where I live, occasionally a friend will pick me up and I'll go out front and wait for them, I'll usually take a bag and pick up trash out front while I wait, which usually includes cigarette butts. If I have to wait a long time, I'll usually do the complex next-door.
  • Jun 17 2013: It's probably quite practical to make tiny robots to do it. They could be energized by solar power and carry out the pick up work for one hour with intermittent charge of two hours laid off. There should not be a problem for the robots to recognize the shape of a cigarette butt.