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Butt… It’s Plastic: A City-wide Cleanup Targeting Nasty Cigarette Butts

November 21, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am

cigarette butts

If you were asked what the most common form of plastic pollution is, what would you say? Plastic bottles? Straws?

Good guess, but not correct. Cigarette butts are actually the most found form of plastic waste in the world,* with about 4.5 trillion individual butts polluting our global environment.

But wait! Aren’t cigarette butts made of cotton or paper? NO! Cigarette butts are primarily plastic. We are drowning in plastic and it’s hurting our environment and wildlife.

That is why Annapolis Green is organizing a City Wide Clean Up on Saturday, November 21, to target cigarette butts, in step with the Great American Smokeout®.

With the success of last February’s Have a Heart, Do your Part cleanup, we figured a late fall sweep would be ideal to get Annapolis ready for upcoming outdoor holiday celebrations.

family cleaning up street

The one-hour neighborhood cleanup format remains ideal for our now COVID-conscious community. It’s flexible, small group oriented and designed to evoke pride of place and connect neighbor to neighbor for the greater good… or the Greener Good! Do your part only in your family group or your COVID bubble. Stay in your neighborhood and wear a mask and gloves. See more detailed instructions below.

The purpose of Butt … It’s Plastic is to stress and educate that cigarette filters ARE PLASTIC. They do not biodegrade. Let’s get them off the ground so they don’t end up in our waterways where they leach toxic chemicals and poison wildlife.

This initiative is calling YOU and your community or business groups to join in for a fun, fast and effective litter pickup and cleanup – right in the public spaces of your own neighborhood – capturing litter and debris on land before it hits our waterways.

Patterned after the successful Eastport Civic Association’s NeatStreets, the cleanup is designed to establish a framework that people in all parts of the city can adjust to suit their own neighborhoods to keep its spirit going beyond this day. With a group of people a lot can be accomplished in a short period of time.

Want to get involved? We’re looking for at least 10 Team Leaders to get it going.

Team leader responsibilities:

  • Designate one block or area of your choice for the November 21 one-day, one-hour cleanup and report the location to Annapolis Green so we can build a map of eco-conscious neighborhoods
  • Recruit neighborhood volunteers
  • Take before and after photos of the designated area; social media posts are encouraged with the hashtags #buttitsplastic and #annapolisgreenbuttcleanup
  • Capture the cigarette butts separately – in a bag. Then, count the number of other bags of litter – that is, recyclables and landfill trash – and report that to us
  • Put all the litter you pick up in the appropriate container for your regular curbside at home except for the butts.
  • Drop off your butts at our office. We’ll have a leader board where we’ll note how many pounds each group brings in. The group with the most butts collected will be able to award a Smoker’s Outpost butt disposal bin to the business or public area of your choice.
  • Once we have everybody’s butts (ooh, the puns we can make) we’ll send them to TerraCycle for proper disposal.
  • Pick up a “Butt, thanks” neighborhood goodie bag as a reward when you bring in your butts! It will be full of coupons and other goodies. More on that soon.

The goal is not only to cleanup one block but to start a network of community-minded residents who will continue the program in the spring, summer and beyond thus building pride of place, getting to know neighbors, and having fun.

If you need supplies, we can provide paper bags and gloves for pickup at our office at Maryland Avenue and State Circle in advance. You’ll have to provide your own masks.

Interested? Please contact Annapolis Green at bay@annapolisgreen.com right away!

Made possible by a Clean Up & Green Up Keep Maryland Beautiful Grant and these organizations:

Maryland Environmental Trust logo   Maryland Dept of Housing & Community Development logo Forever Maryland logo  Maryland Dept of Transportation logo

Fun Facts and FYI

Every year, billions of cigarette butts end up in dumpsters and landfills, or get tossed as litter on shorelines, parks, and sidewalks across the US. With Butt… it’s Plastic, we are joining the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, that is funded by the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company. Waste collected is recycled into a variety of industrial products and any remaining tobacco is recycled as compost.

Once collected, TerraCycle separates the cigarettes and packaging by composition and the plastic is melted into hard plastic that can be remolded to make new recycled industrial products. The ash and tobacco are separated out and composted in a specialized process. Click here to learn more about the recycling process. Our effort will be part of TerraCycle’s goal of recycling 500 million butts by 2025!

For every pound of cigarette waste collected, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company donates $1 toward the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program.

*Every year, billions of cigarette butts get tossed as litter on shorelines, parks, and sidewalks across the US and all over the world, making them the most littered item in the world. However, with the pandemic, single-use plastic is surpassing butts as the most-found items because many associate plastic with hygiene. Don’t be fooled. We CAN reduce single-use plastics without sacrificing health and safety. See our website for ways to do this.

how cigarette butts are recycled graphic



November 21, 2020
10:00 am - 11:00 am
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PO Box 3423
Annapolis MD 21403

Phone: 410-656-9420
Email: bay@annapolisgreen.com