Taking Action: Cleaning Cigarette Butts Off Our Streets

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — WHNT News 19 is taking action for the planet. We noticed hundreds of cigarette butts on the side of the road at the intersection of Memorial Parkway and Logan Drive. We took action and alerted the City of Huntsville’s Operation Green Team.

“I don’t think the public really realizes how much effect cigarette butts actually can have,” said Joy McKee with Operation Green Team. McKee said 4.1 trillion cigarette butts are thrown down on the ground all over the United States each year. It’s not just an eyesore, it can come around and bite you in the butt…literally.

“Animals are harmed by them, as well as our water system, they go down the storm drain leads to water systems, it’s important for us to realize when you flick it out there is an impact,” said McKee.

McKee and a crew from Operation Green Team heard the call from WHNT News 19 and sprang into action. She said this particular location was bad, but it’s not the only one. This is a widespread issue across the city.

“We’re certainly not anti-smoking, that is none of our business but the litter problem is our business,” she said.

It takes 7 to 15 years for a cigarette butt to decompose. That butt isn’t going anywhere for a very long time. Unless it gets chopped up in a mower, which just causes a bigger mess. “We start mowing with Landscape Management pretty soon and when we do that, we’re going to have millions and millions of cigarette butts that pop up,” she said.

Basically, keep it clean. If you’re going to get rid of your cigarette butt, wait until you get home to dispose of it properly. You can also contact Operation Green Team and get a free ash tray for your car.

“If we can just get everybody to quit throwing out litter, quit throwing out cigarette butts then hey, we’ve got it licked and we can move on to doing other things.”

If you spot someone littering, call Operation Green Team’s Littering Hotline at 53-CLEAN.

 

15 comments

  • Skillpot

    Operation Green Team is an unenforceable law on the books! Money being wasted on the administration of it! Yes, it is sickening to go into a business with the stinch of the cigarette butt.

  • Smitth40

    This is a disgusting bad habit by those who smoke cigarettes to have some much disrespect for the community the live in but not only the lives of others they are effecting. Yes I smoked them years ago but I had the decency to discard the filter in the trash, not on the ground. If you were Military you learned real quick the consequences of a butt thrown on the ground and it’s affect. This just shows how disrespectful some smokers are for their own bad habits. KUDOs for the Green Team for their efforts to bring this to attention!

  • Jim M

    Smokers who litter with their cigarette butts are pigs. Its a huge problem everywhere that I have lived. All you have to do is look next to stop signs and anywhere traffic stops for lights etc and you have heaps of cigarette butts on the ground. I guess if you have no qualms with making others breath your smoke then what the heck with a little littering to boot… Maybee catch a few smokers tossing those butts and have them picking up butts for a week or so.. I see smokers dropping their cigarettes outside businesses on the ground, sometimes smashing it to put it out on the ground (littering too) or just flicking it lit to burn out and smoke.

  • cole

    Some idiots just don’t realize how much tax revenue is brought in each year from tobacco . This tax helps to build roads , bridges , schools ,parks , public transportation , it even helps to pay for some crooked polititions saleries . People don’t mind driving across a new bridge of road or going to a new ball field payed for by tobacco tax , but when they see a cigarette but on the ground they are ready to condem the smoker . If ever body quite smoking and drinking , then regular sales tax would go up 200 % . I don’t smoke or drink but I can appreciate those who do because it saves me a lot of tax dollars . If you people are so worried about the cigarette buts then take some of the revenue tobacco brings in and hire someone to pick them up . America could use the extra jobs .

  • Jon W.

    Taking Action is a joke. Ask and follow the hard and important questions. We have a company moving into our area that has multiple EPA super fund cleanup sites. Everywhere Remington Arms goes they leave toxic chemicals and heavy metals in their wake. The old Chrysler Facilaty is right by the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. With all the area draining down into the Miller Branch Creek and the adjacent lagoons. Remington has been effecting water tables and environments by using unlined lagoons and pits (burn and cover) for decades. There are alot of new subdivisions and homes being built around and down stream of this. Also down stream is the town of Triana which has suffered from DDT contamination and still has elevated lead in its water supply (documented by a recent Alabama A&M study). A number of our community have asked WHNT and other local stations to cover or address this. WHNT and others just dismisses it every time.

  • doodlesockin

    Be nice, some try to at least extinquish theirs on one of the blue gazillion chewed-spent-splattered-bacteria breeding gum wads on the ground everywhere. Is that ok with the cleaner-than-you green tree hugging commies?

  • Bob

    Taking Action is a joke. Ask and follow the hard and important questions. We have a company moving into our area that has multiple EPA super fund cleanup sites. Everywhere Remington Arms goes they leave toxic chemicals and heavy metals in their wake. The old Chrysler Facilaty is right by the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. With all the area draining down into the Miller Branch Creek and the adjacent lagoons. Remington has been effecting water tables and environments by using unlined lagoons and pits (burn and cover) for decades. There are alot of new subdivisions and homes being built around and down stream of this. Also down stream is the town of Triana which has suffered from DDT contamination and still has elevated lead in its water supply (documented by a recent Alabama A&M study). A number of our community have asked WHNT and other local stations to cover or address this. WHNT and others just dismisses it every time.

  • jeff massey

    for one person to be happy about less taxes, thousands must die a horrific death. have you ever seen with your own eyes, someone die from lung cancer? the 24/7 agony. the coughing up blood. the gasping for every breath. the final rasping intake of air before the everlasting relaxation of death. the person you love lying motionless in the hospital bed with blood in the corners of their mouth. how much is those tax dollars worth?

  • Lisa

    Yes, cigarette butts are nasty and it’s disgusting but let’s face it…we’ve all seen worse trash thrown out the windows of cars. What about those lovely moms who change their babies diapers in the parking lots and just chuck the crappy diaper out on the pavement? Just as nasty. Litter is litter whether its a cigarette butt or dirty diaper. Stop littering people!

  • KB

    I am a smoker but I have a “butt bucket” in my car. I agree with Lisa. I’ve seen dirty diapers in the parking lots of stores where there are trash cans directly next to the shopping cart drop offs. People are just lazy and don’t care.

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