Cigarette litter is nasty — and unnecessary. So join us in the next few weeks as we remind local smokers, “Don’t flick it; dispose of your cigarette litter responsibly.”
Workers who maintain public venues — such as parking lots, streets and parks — and local business owners far too often are the ones who must clean up cigarette litter dumped on the ground. Unfortunately, this cleanup is a daily process in business districts and on our roads and sidewalks. I can assure you that these folks who have to clean up after smokers have plenty of other things they could be doing.
There also is a significant cost in providing that cleanup so that these areas around shopping and other business sites remain clean and attractive. That cost for this maintenance is passed on to you, the customer. That is another good reason not to flick it.
Slowly, more and more receptacles specifically for cigarette trash are showing up in public areas, so you would think that we would see less cigarette litter. Unfortunately, this type of litter still is the most-prevalent litter in the United States as well as the rest of the world. Can’t we please give local businesses and maintenance workers a break by disposing of litter in a trash can (make sure the ashes are out) or an available receptacle?
We have an ongoing supply of pocket and car ashtrays at Keep Liberty Beautiful to share with interested smokers. Just call us at 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Although these items are not cheap, it is well worth the price to have a cleaner, healthier community.
In the next couple of weeks, we will be having impromptu “Don’t Flick It” days around town. Our goal is to remind local smokers that cigarette trash is litter when they flick it on the ground. We also want to highlight the appropriate opportunities for taking care of these cigarette butts responsibly. I think most smokers litter this type of garbage because they have never considered the consequences of tossing these butts on the ground. Those butts really add up! Every year, at least one cleanup volunteer who is a smoker will share shock at the number of cigarette butts on the ground. Smokers just do not notice them until they are helping clean up an area. Believe me, you have no idea how tiresome it is to pick up cigarette litter! We have “turned” many, many smokers to the “clean side” when they participate in city cleanups.
In the last 10 years, we have had several local groups participate in cigarette-litter awareness programs in different sites around our county. Some sites that have been targeted in these programs are downtown Hinesville, local historic and tourism sites, and streets — including Gen. Screven Way and Veterans Parkway — at some of the busiest gates into Fort Stewart.
One of the most dedicated groups in these efforts has been the American Red Cross Red Club, along with groups that have joined in the last couple of years as they have had numerous awareness days and cigarette scans in these heavily traveled roads. It is tedious to pick up cigarette litter, but it is even more tedious to count cigarette litter as this group does in its litter-scan days! Litter scans help us determine whether the awareness and receptacles and ashtrays that are provided in these areas are reducing the amount of cigarette waste ending up on the roads and sidewalks.
Karen Bell, a KLB advisory-board member who coordinates these incredible efforts on Veterans Parkway, has been thrilled with the significant reduction in the amount of cigarette litter since this project was initiated three years ago.
Ultimately, it is up to you, local smokers. Make the effort to dispose of cigarette litter — and all litter — responsibly in a garbage can or ash receptacle and not on the ground. Be an “environmentally responsible smoker.” Don’t flick it!
Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.