Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Keep Your Butts in the Car

The other day I was driving home from work, when I saw the guy in front of me flick a cigarette butt out his truck window. So since The Litterer couldn’t actually hear me from my car, I honked at him. I guess I just wanted him to know someone was watching.

Littering is one of my biggest pet peeves. And many people don’t consider throwing out their cigarette butts as littering. Do people think that once the cigarette butt hits the road, it magically disappears? It’s really just like throwing a bag of garbage out the window. Cigarette filters can take years to degrade. And according to my online research, cigarettes are the most littered item with several trillion butts being littered worldwide every year.

I have picked up litter many times, as part of my Adopt-A-Highway group, and I’ll tell you, it’s not fun. But because people still litter, someone has get out there and clean it up. MoDOT already spends about $5 million a year to clean up litter off the roads, and our AAH groups contribute another $1 million in efforts. Although there are many different items that people throw out of their vehicles, cigarette butts are the things I see the most. Not only are they ugly and smelly, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment, and littered butts cause numerous fires every year, some of them fatal.

So what can we do? MoDOT is always accepting new volunteers in our Adopt-A-Highway or Sponsor-A-Highway programs. Just go to or call 888-ASK MODOT to join. Butt, if you happen to see someone flicking their butt out their car window, honk and let folks know you’re watching too.