Keep Abita Beautiful volunteers are determined to reduce cigarette litter in Abita Springs, and they are off to a good start with 1,843 butts collected since installing 23 “Time to Give a Butt” receptacles provided by Keep Louisiana Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful.
Volunteers began installing mid-January and continue to install at new locations weekly. The receptacles can be found along the St. Tammany Trace and the Abita Springs Trailhead entrance, as well as in front of local public and commercial spaces.
“In some of the areas where we’ve installed butt receptacles, we easily pick up close to 100 butts each time,” says Sandra Slifer, President of Keep Abita Beautiful. “Now we only see five to six butts littered on the ground, which is a significant improvement.”
The cigarette litter collected will be sent to TerraCycle, a social enterprise focused on eliminating the idea of waste. TerraCycle will repurpose the cigarette waste into composite lumber.
One cigarette can take anywhere from 18 months to 10 years to decompose, and in the process, it releases toxic compounds into the environment, killing birds, animals, and fish. Due to butts being plastic and non-biodegradable, the toxic material never actually disappears, and remnants continue to cause destruction to our ecosystems.
According to the 2020 Keep America Beautiful National Litter Study, 9 out of 10 littered items counted were 4″ and less, with cigarette butts being the number one littered item in this category accounting for 9.7 billion butts counted on any given day in the U.S.
“I commend Abita for their efforts to fight this issue,” says Susan Russell, Executive Director of KLB. “If we can prevent cigarette butts from entering the environment, we will make great strides toward a litter-free Louisiana.”
Keep Abita Beautiful will continue to maintain the butt receptacles for at least five years, collect data on their usage, and report statistics and findings to Keep Louisiana Beautiful.