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Huge cigarette butt sculptures coming to Suffolk

Cigarette litter is no small matter, and askHRgreen.org and its locality partners are taking a big approach to encourage Hampton Roads residents to stop dropping their butts.

Starting this weekend, a huge cigarette butt sculpture will be at the intersection of Godwin Boulevard and Route 58, and will be there May 2-6, according to a press release from askHRgreen.org. From May 3-7, one will be at the VDOT Hampton Roads District Office on Burbage Drive.

These larger-than-life cigarette butt sculptures will loom large in public spaces across Hampton Roads from May 1-14. 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.

“It is well documented that cigarette butts are the most frequently littered item in the United States,” said Katie Cullipher, an askHRgreen.org team leader. “Sure, they’re small, but flicking a cigarette butt on the ground is actually a big deal. Cigarette litter has a ripple effect in our communities with long-lasting impacts.”

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

“We chose a busy stoplight because drivers are responsible for a large amount of cigarette butts discarded along our roadways,” Suffolk Litter Control Coordinator Wayne Jones stated of the Godwin Boulevard intersection. “Our other location is outside the VDOT Hampton Roads District office because they coordinate the Adopt-a-Highway program and are part of the effort to remove litter from our roadways.”

Funded in part by a grant from Keep Virginia Beautiful, the #NoButtsAboutIt promotion illustrates the negative impact cigarette litter has on the environment. According to Keep America Beautiful, it represents 38% of roadway litter, 32% of litter in storm drains and 32% of litter in outdoor recreation areas. The filters are not biodegradable, because they contain cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that will persist in the environment. Also, the filters hold toxins, which can leach into the ground and waterways, damaging living organisms that come in contact with them.

Free-standing cigarette waste receptacles, however, can make a difference when conveniently placed where people gather. As part of the #NoButtsAboutIt campaign, Hampton Roads business owners can apply online for one of 100 free cigarette waste receptacles at www.askhrgreen.org/grants/cigarette-waste-receptacle-grant.

In addition, Cullipher invites owners to sign on to the askHRgreen.org Bay Star Business program, which recognizes local businesses that implement easy or no-cost practices to improve the health of local waterways.

“Good or bad, our everyday actions can have a lasting impact on the environment,” Cullipher said. “We hope this new initiative highlights that fact and encourages people to make responsible decisions when it comes to cigarette waste disposal.”

Besides the Suffolk locations, the large cigarette butts will also be at the following locations on the following dates:

  • 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 3-6 in Norfolk at the Virginia Zoo
  • May 3-7 in 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