“Cigarette butts are definitely one of the biggest and peskiest litter issues out there because they’re so small,” said Jennifer Verch, a spokesperson with Downtown BIZ.
“We do have our sidewalk cleaning machines … but when the butts are going into corners and grassy areas, they can be really difficult to pick up.”
The organization started a campaign to curb smokers from tossing their butts onto the street in 2008, installing 27 receptacles in smoking hot spots throughout the downtown.
Since then, more receptacles — including 15 last year alone —have been installed, but the butts continue to pile up, said Verch.
“They might be small when you’re throwing them on the ground, but the butts really add up.”
Although dropped butts are eventually swept up by members of the Downtown BIZ Metro Enviro-Team, Verch says using the receptacles means the crew can concentrate on other problems. She also points out the butts aren’t as harmless as they might seem to smokers.
“They take a long time to decompose, they can contaminate the waterways with the chemicals in them and they can be harmful to animals if they eat them,” she said. “There’s different problems with them, it’s not that they’re just unsightly.”