According to the Keep America Beautiful Campaign, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education and volunteer opportunities to help create a cleaner environment, cigarette butts are the number one source of litter. While smoking has decreased 28% in the past 10 years (Source), only 10% of cigarette butts are disposed of properly, which leads to a big litter problem. Most smokers don't realize the environmental impact of cigarette littering because cigarette butts are small enough to seem insignificant (Source). However, cigarette butts are made of cellulose acetate, which is a form of plastic that doesn't biodegrade easily. Cigarette butts that are littered on the street or in planters end up being washed into the gutters. Then, they enter our water system and often get washed from our streams into the ocean. Also, small animals often mistake cigarette butts for food and can end up choking or suffocating on them. I was inspired to write this article after a trip I made to the library yesterday. As I was getting into my car, I saw a black bird with a cigarette butt in its mouth. :(
- Public receptacles for cigarette butts are becoming more common.
- Smoking is becoming less common.
- Cigarette manufactures are looking for ways to produce environmentally-friendly cigarette butts. Philip Morris, a cigarette manufacturer, sponsors the Guide for Cigarette Litter Prevention on the Keep America Beautiful website.
- You are reading this article, so now one more person is more aware.
So what can we do?
- If you smoke, place cigarette butts in proper receptacles, including pocket ashtrays.
- Most people who smoke don't realize the impact of cigarette butts on the environment, so you can help educate the people you know who smoke.
- Learn more about the environment. Knowledge of our current environmental issues usually leads to caring about our environment and wanting to make positive changes.
For more information about this issue, check out Bill Nye the Science Guy's video.