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Keep Liberty Beautiful: Fight against cigarette butt litter with Rivers Alive
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell.

Dr. Karen Bell

Keep Liberty Beautiful

This past Friday, the Keep Liberty Beautiful staff, with some volunteers, Mr. Mack, Shyanne, Alyeah, Makayla, Emma, Jasmine, and Madison, were in the Christmas Parade. We shared the news that Cigarette Butt Litter is Happening Around the World.

Cigarette butts are the most challenging element communities must deal with to maintain an outside clear of unwanted litter. In the past decade, cigarette smoking in America has decreased by 28%, yet cigarette butts remain the most littered item. We must get the message out there that dropping cigarette butts and cigar tips to the ground, putting them in planters, and disposing of them in waterways is littering!

The overall littering rate for cigarette butts is 65%. Unfortunately, tobacco products comprise 38% of all U.S. roadway litter. Much of this litter ends up in our waterways. The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup showed cigarette butts as the most littered item, representing 32% of all items collected.

Cigarette butts are carried off by rain into storm drains and eventually to streams and rivers. It now adds up to a significant impact on the places we live.

About 95% of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that does not quickly degrade and can persist in the environment for decades. Filters are harmful to waterways and wildlife. Nearly 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources. Cigarette butt litter can harm animals and marine life when they mistake filters for food.

It also creates blight by accumulating in gutters, sidewalks, parking lots, outside doorways, and bus shelters. Increasing amounts of litter in a business district, along riverfronts, or in recreation areas create a sense that no one cares.

Consistent research about litter and vandalism indicates that little things matter. Lack of care matters. The Broken Windows Theory and subsequent research in the last several decades suggest that neighborhoods and business districts need to be clean and taken care of. Smart communities know that if they fix problems when they are small, they will not escalate into more significant issues for their community.

We think most smokers flick their litter because they are unaware of the environmental impact.

That is why communities need to have enough ash receptacles placed, and Keep Liberty Beautiful offers them for free. We want to encourage all smokers to be “environmentally responsible smokers.” Don’t flick it!

Make an effort to dispose of cigarette litter and all litter responsibly in a garbage can or ash receptacle, and not on the ground!

As a community, we have one more time to Participate in Rivers Alive 2022, to help fight against litter. Three cities have their 2022 Rivers Alive on December 17 from 9 a.m. to noon, Walthourville, Gum Branch, and Riceboro. Rivers Alive is a statewide effort to preserve and protect our waterways in Georgia.

Rivers Alive is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division’s Environmental Outreach Program. Rivers Alive events are also part of the international efforts of The Ocean Conservancy. Keep Liberty Beautiful will provide all the equipment needed and free T-Shirts to all volunteers.

Don’t forget we are still collecting shoes. Spread the word for people to search their homes and look for gently worn, unneeded, unwanted shoes from their households. You can make this season of giving a part of the Keep Liberty Beautiful Shoe Drive.

While shopping, ask everyone you run into to help with the shoe drive.

Our goal this year is 1,000 pairs of shoes to keep out of landfills. Contact Keep Liberty Beautiful if you have questions or shoes to donate.

Want to learn more about fighting cigarette litter or participate in Rivers Alive 2022, please contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at (912) 880-4888. You can also check out our website at www.keeplibertybeautiful. org.

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