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Workgroup Leader: Mark Schwantes

The Cigarette Clean Up Workgroup, founded in Stillwater with the support of a Make America Beautiful grant, is dedicated to reducing cigarette litter and its environmental impact. By installing disposal canisters and collaborating with local stakeholders, we aim to keep our streets clean and raise awareness about the hazards of cigarette waste. Join us in championing a cleaner community.


Cigarette Clean Up Workgroup: Keeping Our Streets and Environment Clean

Cigarette litter has long been an environmental concern, with trillions of cigarette butts littering our global streets, green spaces, and waterways every year. To combat this issue and contribute positively to the environment, the Cigarette Clean Up Workgroup in Stillwater has been working diligently.

Our Initiatives:

  • Installation of Cigarette Disposal Canisters: Thanks to a grant from Make America Beautiful secured in 2019, we've installed cigarette disposal canisters around downtown Stillwater. This initiative has been well-received, with local business owners, SSMN, and visitors expressing gratitude.

  • Canister Monitoring and Maintenance: To ensure cleanliness and efficiency, we're constantly looking for volunteers to monitor and maintain these disposal boxes. Reach out to us if you're interested in getting involved.

The Environmental Impact:

  • Pollution: Cigarette butts are a significant source of pollution. When they get carried away as runoff to drains, they end up polluting our rivers, beaches, and oceans.

  • Toxicity to Marine Life: Chemicals from cigarette butts, such as nicotine, pesticide residues, and metals, are toxic to aquatic life. Laboratory studies have demonstrated the acute toxicity of these chemicals to fish and microorganisms.

  • Soil Contamination: Apart from water bodies, cigarette butts can also harm the soil. Hydrocarbons, some of which are carcinogenic, have been found to seep out of cigarette butts into the soil.

Staggering Statistics:

  • Cigarettes constitute nearly 38% of all collected litter.

  • Every year, cities spend a whopping $3 million to $16 million on cigarette cleanup.

  • Cigarette filters, which look like cotton, are mostly made up of plastic fibers. These fibers are non-biodegradable.

  • It's estimated that around 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts end up as toxic waste annually.

Cigarette Litter Prevention Program:

The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program by Keep America Beautiful® is the largest of its kind, aiming to eliminate cigarette litter. Over the years, communities that have implemented this program have seen a 50% reduction in cigarette litter.

Contribute and Make a Difference:

Cigarette litter is a pressing issue, but with collective effort, we can make a difference. By being aware, using the disposal canisters, and spreading the message, we can significantly reduce the environmental impact of cigarette butts.

For those interested in getting involved or requesting a cigarette canister, please email Mark Schwantes. Your participation can help keep our streets clean and our environment healthy.

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