Most people don’t realize this, and as a result, cigarette butts are the most littered item not only in the US but in the entire world.That’s a terrible trend, but there’s even more bad information to go along with it.
95% of cigarette butts are composed of cellulose acetate, not cotton! Cellulose acetate is a plastic that has been found to take 18 months to 10 years to degrade (depending on conditions) and is toxic to some animals.
Because of their size and prevalence, many cigarette butts find their way into our streams and rivers. During just The Ocean Conservancy’s 2007 International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers picked up almost 2 MILLION cigarette butts from beaches and waterways.
Cigarette litter makes up over 30% of the litter found in recreation areas and can have a noticeable impact on tourism and a city’s foot traffic. Litter has also been linked to property values meaning that the presence of public litter can actually cause unrelated private citizens’ property to be worth less!
Keep California Beautiful, with the help of Keep America Beautiful and CalTrans, is spearheading efforts in California to get the cigarette litter problem under control by installing ash/butt receptacles in transition areas. Pilot programs are popping up all throughout the state, and evidence is already coming back that shows that the new approaches are working very well. Check out the links below to see some of the programs that have already been put in place and to find out how you could help start a program in your neck of the woods!
Keep California Beautiful’s Guide to Implementing a Cigarette Litter Prevention Program – Prepared by KCB’s own Executive Director, Christine Flowers, this PDF provides a step-by-step rundown of how to implement a cigarette litter task force in your very own neighborhood!
Keep America Beautiful’s Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention – KAB’s website provides a ton of resources, guides, tips, facts, and strategies about how cigarette litter is being dealt with throughout the country and how you can get a program started in your own area.
Clean Virginia Waterways’ and Longwood University’s Cigarette Butt Litter site – If you need cigarette litter statistics, this is the place to go. Longwood University did extensive research about cigarettes, littering, and the effect these items have on the environment, and they’ve put it all together in a user-friendly format that encourages and allows everyone to get better educated.
Butts Only Boxes – The special cigarette litter prevention box that is being adopted by CalTrans for their statewide pilot programs!