They can be seen almost everywhere in Hampton Roads: one of the most unsightly things on street corners and intersections, gutters, parks and beaches and outside doorways and bus shelters. What am I talking about? Cigarette butts!
This summer, the team at askHRgreen.org with support from Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and local volunteers will organize a region-wide campaign to reduce cigarette litter using a proven strategy making an impact all across the country. Funding for this program was made possible by a grant from the KAB Cigarette Litter Prevention Program and proceeds from 2014’s inaugural Keep Hampton Roads Beautiful Golf Tournament. In seven project areas across Hampton Roads, the positioning of cigarette waste receptacles combined with positive reminders, education and awareness building will help smokers do the right thing. The askHRgreen.org team will be talking directly with smokers, encouraging them to be mindful of their disposal habits and offering them a pocket ashtray or auto ashtray that fits right into the cup holder of their vehicle.
KAB has researched cigarette litter quite a bit and found that cigarette butts are the MOST littered item in our beautiful country. Cigarette butts account for over a third of all litter collected from roadways, recreation areas and storm drains.
And they stick around – cigarette butts are NOT biodegradable. Cigarette filters are made of a plastic material that lasts a long time. If they are on the ground, they will stay there or get carried through storm drains to local wetlands and waterways. Who wants to swim with cigarette butts? They can be especially harmful when eaten by animals, birds or fish.
If you don’t smoke, it is easy to point your finger at smokers. But this campaign is not about smoking. The members of askHRgreen.org and our partners want to help change the behavior of smokers after smoking – to encourage proper disposal. There is so much of this litter and the habit is very common. So what can be done about it?
We are asking everyone in Hampton Roads to share this message:
Cigarette Butts = Litter.
If you smoke, please dispose of cigarette butts in their proper receptacles. Carry a portable ashtray when you are on-the-go or find an ash receptacle for disposal. And never throw butts out a car window. Tweet us at @HRGreen and let us know how you are supporting the #NoCigaretteLitterNow campaign. Let’s keep Hampton Roads clean!
Look for more updates from across the region as local leaders head up targeted projects in the following places:
- Norfolk: Civic Plaza and Light Rail Station at City Hall
- Hampton: Buckroe Beach
- Virginia Beach: Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area
- Portsmouth: N’Telos Pavillion
- Newport News: Hilton Village
- Downtown Suffolk
- James City County: I-64 Park and Ride Lot
For more information about how you can help, visit https://askhrgreen.org/cigarette-litter