Keep Golden Isles Beautiful and the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant were out on the pier on St. Simons Island on Friday afternoon for their monthly “Pier Day,” where they raise awareness about the harm that cigarette butts can cause the environment.
The two organizations have been partnered in an effort to deter cigarette smokers from tossing their butts on the ground since 2014.
Lea King-Badyna, executive director of Keep Golden Isles Beautiful said she and Katy Smith of the UGA Marine Extension got rid of over 2,000 cigarette butts the first time they worked together on the pier.
“You haven’t lived until you’ve crawled on your hands and knees picking up cigarette butts,” King-Badyna said.
At their display table setup, the two handed out two different types of ashtrays to passing smokers or people with smokers in their lives.
One of the ashtrays fits comfortably in a car or chair cup holder, and the other is a keychain model that can fit in a pocket.
Smokers and non-smokers alike stopped by the table to pick up the handy trinkets as well as to hear more about the cause of the two organizations.
“Even if people don’t smoke, we can talk to them about the toxic effect that littered cigarette butts have on the environment,” King- Badyna said.
The cup holder ashtrays were provided by the nonprofit organization Keep America Beautiful, which KGIB is affiliated with. Keep America Beautiful was also involved in the installation of the mounted cigarette butt receptacles on the light poles next to the entrance of the pier.
One odd-looking item stood out on the display table — an ashtray made from recycled cigarette butts was provided by the company Terracycle.
King-Badyna said that Terracycle was the only company that would take all the cigarette butts that they collect to reuse them. She said that since they started sending their butts to the company, other local businesses such as Maggie Mae’s and Castaway’s Lounge have done the same.