News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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October 31, 2013

No butts about littering

Containers bought by Keep Terre Haute Beautiful give smokers place for disposal

TERRE HAUTE — It’s no secret that cigarette butt littering causes an unsightly mess.

A recent Facebook post on the Keep Terre Haute Beautiful page asked people to list places where they’ve noticed accumulation of the leftover cigarettes, and the answers were numerous and widespread throughout the city.

Parking lots, smoking shelters, city parks, government buildings and street corners where pedestrians wait on traffic, as well as areas outside hospitals — all made the littering list of butt collection sites.

Such littering has prompted the Keep Terre Haute Beautiful organization to offer — at no cost to businesses or agencies — 37 cigarette ash containers that can be placed in areas where people have been tossing their cigarette butts on the ground.

“Every morning when I’m driving to work or going home, I see people smoking outside and tossing away their cigarettes,” said Jane Santucci, director of Keep Terre Haute Beautiful, a committee of Trees Inc. “With the city’s no-smoking ordinance, people have to be at least eight feet away from the entrances to buildings. That’s where you find a lot of the litter.”

The containers were purchased through a grant from Keep America Beautiful, and Santucci said she hopes to run out of the containers soon as people become more responsible about litter. The containers were purchased through Gurman Container.

People can send an email to kthb@treesinc.org to request a receptacle, Santucci said. The bottoms can be filled with sand or cat litter to provide weight and extinguish the butts. A small hole allows the containers to be secured with a chain or cable so they cannot be stolen.

Cigarette butts are the most frequently littered item, according to Keep America Beautiful’s 2009 Littering Behavior in America study.

The study found that the overall littering rate for cigarette butts is 65 percent, with 85 percent ending up on the ground, 37 percent into bushes and shrubbery, 25 percent on or around trash receptacles and 15 percent into planters.

Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. The filters may look like cotton, but they are made of cellulose acetate and they trap formaldehyde, arsenic, nicotine, lead, butane, ammonia and other toxic substances that can leach out into groundwater

The Keep America Beautiful study also showed that smokers are more likely to litter if the environment contains any type of litter. And, for every cigarette ash receptacle, the littering rate for cigarette butts decreases by 9 percent, according to the study.

Santucci said that those locations that do receive one of the receptacles are asked to monitor the devices for about eight weeks, to see if a change occurs in littering.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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