Taking Action: Cleaning Cigarette Butts Off Our Streets

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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.


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