Keep Your Butt off the Road!

Written By: Gillian Holmes

While you are driving late at night, do you ever notice the flicker of red amber hitting the road? It may surprise you at first, but then you remember that is most likely someone in their vehicle flicking a lit cigarette butt out the window. This may seem harmless when thinking about that one cigarette butt, but on a larger scale, there are negative outcomes to littering cigarette butts out of your car window.

Cigarette butts that are thrown out of car windows end up in ditches on the side of the road where they will be washed in to the sewer drains. Sewer drains from the street are pathways for rainwater that flow down into fresh water systems such as storm ponds or rivers that then wash into greater bodies of water such as lakes. Cigarette butts can leach chemicals such as cadmium, lead, and arsenic into an aquatic environment within an hour of contact, contaminating our fresh water supply, which humans and other animals rely on for drinking, bathing, and swimming. 


It has been documented that cigarette butts that are thrown from vehicles can start wild fires during the drier months. Cigarette butts can easily spark a fire in areas with greater amounts of vegetation, especially those with dry leaf litter. These fires spread extremely fast, engulfing everything within the surrounding area including houses, forests, grasslands, and agricultural fields. Fires caused by cigarette butts claim the lives of about 1,000 people and injure about 3,000 people each year. Disposing of your butt litter appropriately can easily prevent these types of fires.


One solution to this problem is to have ashtrays in vehicles. Unfortunately, vehicles are no longer equipped with built in ashtrays. This is quite a problem, and a huge barrier in our quest for a solution to butt litter when it comes to smoking and driving. A great alternative to this problem is to find a permanent item such as a metal cup or pocket ashtray to dispose of your butts. Pocket ashtrays are easy to use and super convenient when on the go.


If you’re interested in using a pocket ashtray, you can get them from A Greener Future by sponsoring a litter cleanup on our website. For every $1.00 donated, A Greener Future will pick up 10 pieces of litter. Not only will you be helping clean up communities across Canada, you will also be donating to a worthy organization, and the larger the donation the greater the impact!


If you smoke, how many cigarette butts do you think you've dropped on the ground in your lifetime? 



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