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The Blue & Gray Press | June 24, 2018

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Butts are litter too campaign takes off across campus and fredericksburg

BY LILY WRIGHT

The University of Mary Washington is participating in an environmental campaign “Butts are Litter Too,” which is designed to prevent cigarette litter on campus.

Signs reading,Butts are Litter Too, Keep Fredericksburg Litter Free are visible throughout campus with the aim of calling attention to the issue of cigarette butts littering the campus, as well as the city of Fredericksburg.

According to Joni Wilson, director of landscape and grounds at UMW, “it’s not just our campus environment but the city as well,” that gets affected by cigarette butt litter.

UMW is teaming with the nonprofit organization Keep America Beautiful and the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program to reach out to students and inform them about environmental problems.

The university is also working with the Fredericksburg Clean and Green Commission to prevent cigarette butt litter throughout the entire city of Fredericksburg.

“The purpose of this commission is to ensure effective planning and maintenance of landscape elements and amenities, and to encourage a clean and aesthetically pleasing environment in our city,” according to the Fredericksburg Clean and Green Commission website.

Student volunteers and the Ecology Club played a major role in spreading the word about this campaign.

“The goal of the “Butts are Litter Too” campaign is to raise awareness about the harms of cigarette butt litter on campus,” said junior and social environmental science major Hannah Somers.

According to Somers, the volunteers are trying to educate students about several different issues.  A handout provided by the volunteers shows that cigarette butts are 95 percent plastic and do not decompose, but instead pollute rivers and drinking water and kill fish and other wildlife.

Students who participated in this campaign passed ashtrays out to students between Sept. 11 and Sept. 13.

In addition to the litter problem, there is a significant cost that goes into disposing of cigarette butts.

“We have to spend resources cleaning up cigarette butts,” said Wilson. She adds that, if not for maintenance crews cleaning up campus, “we would be ankle deep in cigarette butts.”

“Smoking poles” can be found in front of many buildings on the campus, providing a safe and clean way to dispose of cigarette butts.

“A lot of students who were already smoking were happy to receive the pocket ashtrays and they offered feedback on the smoker’s poles and where they were placed,” said Evelyn Hartman, UMW’s sustainability coordinator and a volunteer in the campaign.

The organization’s priority is, “bringing the public and private sectors together to develop and promote a national cleanliness ethic.”

The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP) is entering its 11th year as “the nation’s largest program aimed at reducing cigarette litter,” according to their website.