WJBF EXTRA: Cigarette Butts & Littering In The CSRA

WJBF EXTRA: Cigarette Butts & Littering In The CSRA (Image 1)

By Cory Mcginnis

It’s estimated that several trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year. That's billions of cigarettes flicked, one at a time, on our sidewalks, streets, beaches, nature trails, gardens and other public places every single day.

In fact, cigarettes are the most littered items in America and the world.

Liz Callison (Smoker): “No, we shouldn't be littering, I don't think they should be flung out of the cars, I'm probably not %100 good at that, I am a smoker.”

So when you're in public, or in your car, what are you supposed to do to get rid of those butts?

The answer's simple, a public ashtray, car ashtray, disposable ashtray, or a standard trash can after field stripping.

Liz Callison, smoker: “I always field dress it and put it in my pocket when I'm out in places like that where's there's not a garbage can or ashtray available.”

Cory McGinnis, reporting: “Do you think that's common? That people would put there cigarettes in their pockets?”

Callison: “Probably not, because it makes your clothes smell and you have to wash them immediately, but I know a couple of people who do it, but in general, most people don't have a problem leaving them on the ground.”

Cigarette butts contain toxic chemicals that leak out into the environment. The filter is specifically designed to trap these chemicals. Some people think cigarettes are biodegradable.

Cory McGinnis: “Are cigarette butts biodegradable?”

Mike Keene, Area Engineer with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT): “No, they're not, because it’s the chemical makeup that they have to use to take out of the chemicals out of the cigarettes.”

Cigarettes are made of plastic fibers that take years to decompose.

Keene tells me GDOT uses a special vacuum to pick up cigarettes along Georgia's interstates, which get littered with butt’s everyday.

Keene: “It's costing a lot of money. We're already…the department and state is already down with funds and all, and it's costing us a lot of money for a lot of man hours to pick up trash like that and it would save a lot of taxpayers' dollars to keep their trash in their car and throw it away at home.”

So, the next time you’re in your car, public street or even on the edge of the Grand Canyon, your first reaction shouldn't be this is a great place to flick my butt…

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