A few years ago, I Love A Clean San Diego heard about a program being launched by our national affiliate, Keep America Beautiful. The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, although in its infancy, seemed like a great addition to our program arsenal. Anyone who has participated in one of our cleanups knows that cigarette butts are far and away the most common item picked up. It’s a painstaking process, bending over and picking them up one by one. While removing cigarette litter is good, preventing it is even better. So that’s what we set out to do.
In collaboration with the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, we are implementing three new CLPP programs this summer. The areas targeted for ash can installation include: Oceanside, North Park, and La Mesa. Prior to placing the ash cans, our volunteers do litter scans to find the areas that have the most cigarette litter. Then, ash cans are installed, and the cigarette litter collection begins. Typically, after about a month, volunteers will do a post installation litter scan to see how many butts still make it onto the ground. One lucky volunteer has the dubious task of counting each cigarette butt in all the ash cans to see how many are collected during the first few months. In some cases, we’ve been able to collect upwards of 2,500 butts in a single month!
We are excited to expand this already successful program. The three new areas we are reaching join Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla and Point Loma where ash cans were installed in previous years. We estimate these ashcans have prevented over 30,000 cigarette butts from littering our local environment each year.