Big problems come from smallest litter

Published 6:22 pm Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Tossing cigarette butts as if nature were your ashtray is disgusting, lazy and selfish — and there are no “buts” about that.

Cigarette butts may be small individually, but adding up all the butts tossed in Isle of Wight alone in a given year would cause most reasonable people to squirm. The consequences of one small action — tossing out a cigarette butt — multiplied by many thousands are disastrous for the environment and the natural beauty of our community.

That is the concept behind a provocative campaign from to urge smokers not to be litterbugs. Quite a few larger-than-life cigarette butt sculptures are on the streets now across Hampton Roads in strategic locations, including a Suffolk spot very familiar to Isle of Wight residents traveling there for health care and other necessities — the intersection of Godwin Boulevard and Route 58, historically a heavily littered location, with not only cigarette butts but all manner of other trash.

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Officials hope that seeing these ugly creations will encourage people to stamp out the habit — the litterbug habit, if not the smoking habit entirely.

Funded in part by a grant from Keep Virginia Beautiful, the #NoButtsAboutIt promotion illustrates the negative impact cigarette litter has on the environment. According to Keep America Beautiful, butts represent 38% of roadway litter, 32% of litter in storm drains and 32% of litter in outdoor recreation areas.

The filters are not biodegradable, because they contain cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that will persist in the environment. Also, the filters hold toxins, which can leach into the ground and waterways, damaging living organisms that come in contact with them.

We sincerely hope this program will encourage people to keep their cigarette butts with them until they arrive at a proper receptacle. Our environment depends on it.