06/19 Health & Wellness Tip – Butts

As I was looking for some good links earlier this month when writing about litter, one of the facts I read is that cigarette butts is one of the most littered items. Really?

I had no plan to write about this until we did our “litter loop” walk the other day and I noticed all the cigarette butts. (That is the affectionate name I have created for our weekly walk where we pick up litter.) The cigarette butts were everywhere. Now I must admit, I will not pick up the cigarette butts.

Take this picture as an example. You can see the plaque on the bottom photo that the bench is made from recycled grocery bags, which is wonderful! In the top photo, you can see cigarette butts beneath the bench.
Am I wrong in thinking that this is intentional littering? At least the majority of the time?

This leaves me almost speechless. I don’t understand why a person thinks it is OK to toss their cigarette out their car window as if the butt fairies are going to clean it up.

Longwood University and Clean Virginia Waterways states the biggest misconception about butts is that people believe they are too small to be considered litter. The most important message we can convey is that cigarette butts are litter too!

I didn’t think about the impact that all these butts have on our environment until I started to look into it a bit more. And after reading up on this, I am glad I am not picking up the butts!

The Cigarette Butt Pollution Project says these are some of the facts about butt pollution:

  • The butts leach chemicals into the environment
  • The filters are not biodegradable
  • They are the most littered item in the US and world
  • Clean-up efforts are costly

For the time-being, we will continue to do our “litter loop” weekly. I feel good about helping to clean up the environment, regardless of how small that may seem. And, I look forward to the day where we come home empty-handed from our litter loop!

In the meantime, convince those smokers you know to use appropriate means to dispose of their butts!

Cigarette Litter Fact Sheet from Keep America Beautiful


by Michele Spear