If ever you’ve walked along the sidewalk, in a park, or peered over a curb, you have likely noticed cigarette butt litter. In fact, you’ve probably even seen it where children play, at schools and playgrounds. With all the beautification of our region’s communities and parks, and with all the discussion about the health of our lakes and rivers, cigarette litter sticks out like a sore thumb.
Cigarette butt litter is the number one littered item worldwide. In fact, during the 2016 Butt Litter Clean-Up Month, dozens of volunteers joined the Franklin Grand Isle Tobacco Prevention Coalition and RiseVT in 6 communities and picked up over 9,000 butts. According to Amy Brewer, Coordinator for the Franklin Grand Isle Tobacco Prevention Coalition, “Because many folks do not give too much thought about what a cigarette butt is made out of, they are often discarded out of car windows or directly onto the ground. Butt litter then accumulates easily in certain areas as a result of the wind, rain, and sometimes transported on the bottom of your shoe. From there, they can be washed down into storm drains, rivers and into the lake.”
Research demonstrates that cigarette butt litter is, in fact, harmful. About 95 % of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate – that is a form a plastic. Like so many other plastics, estimates are that they don’t degrade for 15-25 years. In that timeframe, they frequently travel into storm drains and end up in local waterways. At that point, the toxins that were trapped in the filter from the cigarette can leach out. Additionally, animals, including marine life, often mistake cigarette butts for food. Brewer shares, “I have even caught my 2-year old daughter picking up a butt and investigating it. That was alarming!”
This August, 6 Butt Litter Clean-Ups are scheduled throughout the region, starting August 9th and continuing through August 22nd. Communities of focus will include Enosburgh Falls, St. Albans City, Swanton, Richford, St. Albans Town, and the Town of Enosburgh. Each volunteer-supported, 2-hour event helps to create safer and healthier spaces for everyone. Collected butts are counted, tracked and then recycled in partnership with the Northwest Solid Waste Management District. For information about participating in any of these events, contact Amy Brewer at 524-1296 or email@example.com. You can also find information at the Coalition’s Facebook page.
Keeping our parks, playgrounds and waterways healthy and beautiful is a priority for our communities. If you do smoke, please remember that a cigarette butt is not a harmless piece of paper or cotton and dispose of it in an appropriate place. If you cannot find a receptacle, you can stub it out on a shoe and take it with you. The FGI Tobacco Prevention Coalition has free reusable pocket ash trays – contact us at 524-1296 or on Facebook to get one. For anyone considering quitting, remember to check out www.802Quits.org or call NMC’s Quit Partner, Chari Andersen, RN, at 524-8480.
Join us in beautifying and protecting our community, rivers and lakes. Meet us for a cigarette butt clean-up at any of these locations. We supply the gloves and bags. You bring the smile. All butts will be recycled.
Cigarette butt clean-up locations:
• Enosburg Falls, August 9, meet at Lincoln Park, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
• St. Albans City, August 14, meet at City Hall/Downtown, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
• Swanton, August 15, meet at Marble Mill Park, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
• Richford, August 17, meet at Fountain Park, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
• St. Albans Town, August 17, meet at St. Albans Industrial Park, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
• Enosburgh/Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail, August 22, meet at the Dairy Center, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Come for the full 2 hours or for 15 minutes! It makes a difference! So will you!