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Why these large cigarette butts are cropping up around Hampton Roads

'They do linger, they do pose a threat to wildlife and they are a big problem'
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Posted at 8:18 AM, May 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-02 08:20:28-04

NORFOLK, Va. -- Cigarette litter is no small matter, and together with local partners, askHRgreen.org is taking a big approach to encourage Hampton Roads residents to stop dropping their butts.

From May 1 to 14, larger-than-life size cigarette butt sculptures will loom large in public spaces across the region. Coupled with an offer to provide free cigarette butt receptacles to area businesses, organizers of the #NoButtsAboutIt promotion hope the artwork will convince smokers to keep local landscapes and waterways cigarette litter-free.

Katie Cullipher, team leader with askHRgreen.org, said, "Cigarette litter is such a huge problem, but they're such tiny little things that people don't often think twice about, so [we thought] why don't we make these large-scale cigarette butts, put them out in the community, take them to events and just get the conversation started about cigarette litter?"

Constructed out of PVC pipe and spray foam insulation, the sculptures on display across the region vary in size, measuring approximately two to three feet long.

The display is set up in the rocks near Nauticus, and many passers-by stopped to look at the sculptures and ask questions.

Cullipher said, "Just having that visual in juxtaposition of these beautiful spaces that we have here in Hampton Roads helps us to get the point across that it is a big problem."

According to Keep America Beautiful, cigarette letter represents 38 percent of roadway litter, 32 percent of litter in storm drains and 32 percent of litter in outdoor recreation areas.

"Really, we just want people to understand that cigarette butts are not biodegradable and their filters do have a plastic material in them and that lingers in the environment," Cullipher said. "They do linger, they do pose a threat to wildlife and they are a big problem."

To take further action, askHRGreen.org is also giving away 100 free cigarette receptacles to local businesses.

"For free we're giving away the stand-up cigarette waste receptacles. If a local business wants to help do their part and ensure that their customers or their employees have a safe place to dispose of their butts we just encourage them to apply and you can find that information right on our website."

The giant cigarettes will be on display on the following dates at these locations:

  • May 1-7, in:
    • Gloucester at Abingdon Park & Ark Park
    • Hampton at the Y. H. Thomas Community Recreation Center
    • Norfolk at Nauticus
    • Virginia Beach at the Virginia Beach Convention Center
  • May 2-6 in Suffolk at the stoplight onto Godwin Blvd (ramp off of U.S. Route 58 heading eastbound)
  • May 3-6 in Norfolk at the Virginia Zoo
  • May 3-7, in:
    • Suffolk at the VDOT Hampton Roads District Office (7511 Burbage Drive)
    • Virginia Beach at the Brock Environmental Center
  • May 3-10 in Chesapeake at the Central Library
  • May 4-7 in James City County at the JCC Recreation Center
  • May 7-14, in:
    • Gloucester at Woodville Park & Gloucester Point Beach
    • Virginia Beach at the Virginia Aquarium (tentative)