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‘Beat the Butts’ campaign to launch June 1

By Staff | May 25, 2016

With statistics showing that it takes anywhere from one to five years for a cigarette filter to biodegrade in the ocean and up to 10 years to biodegrade in a median, coupled with the beaches of Southwest Florida littered with cigarette butts, Keep Lee County Beautiful is beginning a new initiative, “Beat the Butts,” starting June 1.

“We do all the beach cleanups,” Keep Lee County Beautiful Public Outreach Coordinator Sierra Wade Smith said. “We collect an ungodly amount of cigarette butts. These cigarette butts are by far the most popular items we collect.”

Keep Lee County Beautiful, which began 27 years ago as a nonprofit organization, is affiliated with Keep America Beautiful that holds several anti litter campaigns, with the newest one “Beat the Butts.”

“We decided to launch this ‘Beat the Butts’ campaign because we are wanting to get people’s attention and we have resources available, so this unnecessary littering can be avoided,” Smith said.

Keep Lee County Beautiful has secured a partnership with all 7-11 gas stations on Fort Myers Beach, and is in the process of forming a partnership with the 7-11 on Sanibel, to kick off the June 1 campaign. Smith said any one that purchases a pack of cigarettes, while supplies last, throughout the month of June, will receive a free pocket ashtray at 7-11.

“We have them in the office as well as car ashtrays, litter bags,” Smith said. “There’s an easier way than to just flick it.”

The oval pocket ash trays are about two inches long making it easy to fit in a pocket. She said about three to four cigarette butts can be stored in the pocket ashtray .

“You close it and you don’t have that smell. These pocket ashtrays mask the smell,” Smith said.

Keep Lee County Beautiful is constantly reaching out to the community offering their assistance when an individual, or group wish to do trash cleanups.

“We are trying to spread the word and let people know we are here and want to get involved and help people help their community,” she said.

In addition to cleanups, the nonprofit also does beautification projects. Smith said they have worked with communities in helping plant a vegetable garden, enhancing an eye sore in a neighborhood and restoring old run down abandoned parks.

For more information, call (239) 334-3488, or visit www.klcb.org, or visit the Keep Lee County Beautiful Facebook page.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.