Live Green: Cigarette Litter Prevention
SALISBURY, MD– Bright, yellow boxes have been popping up on buildings around Downtown Salisbury to spark a conversation about how to properly throw away cigarette butts. This week on Live Green, Meteorologist Sloane Haines spoke to the Wicomico Environmental Trust, to learn more.
“I will say as a former smoker, I understand wanting to smoke. I get it. We’re not telling people not to smoke, we’re telling them to throw the cigarette butts away,” said Dan O’Hare.
Cigarette butts are the most common type of trash to enter our water ways–that’s according to Dan O’Hare – the past president of the Wicomico Environmental Trust.
“It’s no question across the country, it’s gotten a lot worse over the past year. The amount of trash in our environment has really increased to many factors, but mostly those surrounding COVID,” stated O’Hare.
Researchers say during the pandemic – we’ve seen an increase in cigarette and tobacco sales. In fact, 25% people who smoked before 2020 reported smoking more over the past year. That’s why the Wicomico Environmental Trust launched the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program.
“Every bit of trash that goes into the ground finds it’s way into the Wicomico River. That affects wildlife and the beautiful area in which we live. It is constantly under siege by surplus amounts of trash,” explained O’Hare.
To reduce cigarette litter, the organization installed yellow cigarette disposal boxes throughout Downtown Salisbury. The boxes feature pop culture themed polls, like Lebron James or Michael Jordan to Albert Einstein versus Stephen Hawking– an attempt to make recycling just a bit more fun.
“Surrounding where these boxes are there is a lot less cigarette litter on the ground. It does not mean there is not any, it means that there is a lot less,” stated Dan O’Hare.
Plus, when these boxes are filled, the cigarettes won’t be headed to any landfill. Instead, they will be recycled into sustainable products, like benches or plastic pallets. Showing that the smallest actions are enough to spark change.
“You are throwing it away, one way or another, why not throw it in a trash receptacle,” said O’Hare.
In addition to their Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, the Wicomico Environmental Trust has a Creekwatchers program to monitor the waters of the Wicomico River and even a Book Club.
For more information on their programs and ways to get involved, please visit their website.