They’re small, they’re ugly and they’re nasty, and there’s an organization in town that wants them off the streets.
To help with that, Keep Golden Isles Beautiful has installed six new cigarette waste receptacles on various light poles in historic downtown to remove any excuse for throwing cigarette butts on the ground.
Purchased through a grant with the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, the receptacles should help service pedestrian traffic and assist in reducing cigarette litter significantly, says KGIB Executive Director Lea King-Badyna.
Cigarette litter is more than just unattractive. It can be deadly to coastal wildlife, says King-Badyna.
“Cigarette litter is the No. 1 most littered item in the country and is a huge problem in the Golden Isles,” she said. “The filters are made of a spun plastic, not cotton, so the littered butts degrade slowly, if at all, and release chemicals into the environment.”
They are especially hazardous to marine life.
“Cigarette butts are easily swept into storm drains and travel out into the salt marshes, estuaries and ocean, becoming toxic marine debris,” she said. “When the cigarette butts are wet, the spun plastic pulls apart and resembles jellyfish, causing harm to marine life upon ingestion.”
The installation is part of the Keep Golden Isles Beautiful, UGA Marine Extension Service and Georgia Sea Grant’s “This is Litter Too” cigarette litter prevention program. The joint efforts for the campaign between the three entities earned a national third place distinction in January.
Six more receptacles are set to be installed on poles in the coming weeks at locations in the St. Simons Island Pier Village area, along with five more free-standing cigarette waste receptacles.
Because cigarette butts are made of plastic, King-Badyna says they can be recycled into low-grade plastic materials. The nonprofit will be partnering with TerraCycle to collect, ship and recycle the butts.
KGIB and Maggie Mae’s restaurant downtown also serve as public drop-off locations for cigarette litter.
King-Badyna encourages residents to join in the League of Protectors “Rivers Alive” Fishing Pier Cleanup at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 9 on Jekyll Island, where the main focus will be cleaning up cigarette butts before they make it to the water.