Cleaning up problematic cigarette butts

Published on: 6/4/2014

Public Forum:

For Earth Day, our local youth tobacco prevention group in Greendale, Wisconsin, called FACT, picked up cigarette butts at Scout Lake to raise awareness about the negative impact that littered cigarette butts have on our environment. FACT is Wisconsin's youth-driven tobacco prevention movement for young leaders in grades 7 through 12.

Cigarette butts are made mostly of plastic and don't break down. They contain toxic chemicals that leak into our lakes, rivers and streams. I have seen cigarette butts everywhere, including the Root River Parkway, Scout Lake and playgrounds. The presence of these harmful substances in areas where families, which may include small children, go to enjoy time together is completely unacceptable.

With my group alone, the sheer number of cigarette butts I found in the parking lot of Scout Lake was downright ridiculous. A small parking lot, with an estimated 30 parking spots, contained over 600 cigarette butts. Three other groups traveled to the lake and collected over 400 cigarette butts. Our grand total was 1,016 cigarette butts collected.

This is completely disgusting an area that is supposed to be dedicated to the beauty and nature has been overrun with plastic and chemical waste.

FACT members are working hard in our community to spread the truth about tobacco. The truth is cigarettes are not just harmful to those who smoke them, but the litter hurt the environment, too.

FACT is part of the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program and is managed by the American Lung Association in Wisconsin. For more information on the FACT Movement, please visit

Katrina Fauser