Cigarettes come with a Surgeon General warning, but human health isn’t the only thing affected by cigarettes. Discarded cigarette butts create a water quality hazard right in our neighborhood, ranking number one as the most harmful waste to hit waterways.
Let’s face it. Many smokers casually drop their cigarette butts, thinking it won’t matter if it’s on the street or sidewalk. But cigarette butts aren’t actually biodegradable, myth busted. A cigarette butt can take as long as 10 years to decompose, allowing close to 7,000 chemicals to seep into waterways, contributing to years of pollution. This harmful trash then travels down the road into a storm drain and directly into our waterways.
Toxic tobacco trash is littering our water supplies and natural environments, creating more than just an eyesore for our community. In California alone, 34% of bagged waste is cigarette butts, making it one of the most common items amongst litter.
However small it may be, when that cigarette butt lands on the ground or in the gutter, it becomes litter. Many people who would never purposefully toss trash out of a window don’t even think twice about the butt of their cigarette or the harm it could cause.
Check out these ways to encourage litter-free behavior:
- If you smoke, be sure to find a proper receptacle to dispose of the cigarette butt.
- Remind smokers to look around for a place to discard their cigarette butt when you see them light up.
- Encourage retailers, property owners and municipalities to include more trash cans at the transition points – the places where someone must stop smoking.
Remember, it’s important to keep this small, butt mighty bad trash out of our watersheds!