And the Most Littered Item in the United States is…

cigarette-butt-litterLast year more than 287 billion cigarettes were sold in the United States.

Smokers smoked each one and then discarded the cigarettes butts in ashtrays and garbage cans.

At least most did.

Many flick them in the most convenient location they find, which includes sidewalks, beaches, parks and many public areas.

According to Keep America Beautiful, a non-profit committed improving the environment, cigarettes butts make up 32% of all litter in the country. On top of that 65% of all tobacco products are not disposed of properly.

Littering cigarette butts bring a number of harmful side effects including:

  • They’re extremely difficult to clean up. Due to their small size, cigarette butts can be extremely difficult to clean up. Particularly if there are a lot of them. Volunteers who clean up litter will most likely not see the cigarette butts and even if they do start picking them up, their size makes it almost impossible to get all of them.
  • Unsightly. Typically when smokers finish their cigarettes they discard them wherever they find an open area. While this isolated disposal won’t degrade the beautify of an area, if 200 smokers come and do the same thing, it will quickly make it easy to only see the cigarette butts and completely miss the forest.
  • Harmful to waterways and wildlife. Discarded cigarette butts don’t stay where they are. In fact, in a very short period of time the chemicals from the butt can very easily be washed away in the rain, become attached to someone’s shoe or car wheel, or be eaten by an animal. If the butt gets washed into a river it can get washed up somewhere 50 miles away in only a few days. The chemicals in these butts then get into the water that people and animals drink from, and into the fields that we irrigate with this water. Over time these chemical can cause a host of other problems.

So what’s a smoker to do?

The first thing is to be aware that one cigarette might be insignificant, but over time a large number of butts can cause massive amounts of damage.

The best option would be to make sure you dispose of your cigarette butt properly in either an ashtray or a garbage can. (If you’re throwing it into a garbage can it is extremely important to make sure that the cigarette is completely extinguished first to eliminate the risk of starting a fire.)

You can also pick up a portable pocket ashtray for a few bucks on Amazon. These ashtrays are extremely portable, easy to clean and seal in any smell – so you don’t need to worry about your pocket reeking of cigarette smoke. And you can take them anywhere. Instead of discarding your cigarette anywhere you have a great way to discard it – without any risk to the environment.

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