Stop Littering Cigarette Butts
4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered in our parks, sidewalks and public places yearly, according to Keep America Beautiful. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the United States.
Many people casually flick a cigarette butt out of a car window or toss aside a cigarette while walking, not thinking of the harm this might cause. One carelessly tossed cigarette can cause significant damage; imagine the compounded effect of 4.5 trillion cigarette butts. Cigarette litter is not just an aesthetic eyesore; it causes significant fire and environmental damage.
Cigarette butts that aren't properly extinguished can — and do – start fires. The following cigarette litter tragedies could easily have been avoided:
Most cigarette filters are not biodegradable as many people presume. 95 percent of filters are made of plastic cellulose acetate and take many years to decompose.
To make matters worse, there are 165 chemicals in cigarettes that birds and other small animals ingest thinking that the butts are food. Ingestion can lead to starvation or malnutrition if the butts block the intestinal tract and prevent digestion or accumulate in the digestive tract, making the animal feel full and lessening its desire to feed.
All the costly fire and environmental damage could be avoided if people heeded the same attentiveness to cigarette disposal as they do to throwing away other trash.
I Did This!
You can make a difference in reducing the effects of cigarette litter whether you're a smoker or not.
If you do not smoke, help educate others about the dangers of improperly disposed cigarette butts. Publicize web sites such as CigaretteLitter.org, Cigarette Butt Litter, and Keep America Beautiful in church bulletins, community newsletters, and company publications.
If you are a smoker, always carefully extinguish your cigarette. Never toss a still smoldering cigarette butt. Also consider using a pocket ashtray. These ashtrays are very thin, foil lined, and trap the smell inside. You can also use film or mint containers as improvised storage until you can properly dispose of the cigarette butts later.
Talk with community leaders about providing ash receptacles at outdoor events such as festivals, golf tournaments, and parades. If you are attending a picnic, beach outing, or family reunion, consider bringing along several ash trays for guests to use.
Be on the lookout for areas in which a permanent ash receptacle would be useful, then talk with community leaders and business owners about installation. “Transition points” – areas where a smoker must extinguish a cigarette before proceeding – are particularly prone to cigarette butt litter. Some common transition points are bus shelters, train platforms, and outside retail stores, hotels, and office buildings.
Make a Difference
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