While we weren’t physically together on Earth Day 2020, we were uber inspired by folks in our community who came together (6 feet apart and with safety gloves) to take action. Their mission: removing cigarette butts and speaking up for the future of our region AND planet.

Boy, did Earth Day take an ironic twist in 2020.

April 22, the 50th anniversary of the planet’s largest civic event and environmental movement, saw pollution  levels plummet. Coyote and deer were spotted roaming around cities and towns. Air was cleaner. That’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news.

Cigarette butt litter is constant, as we discovered in local clean-ups. Even with shelter in place regulations, there still is an opportunity for some to drop their butts after a smoke break, or flick them out the window on their travels.

Cigarette butts — the most littered item on Earth–are still taking over our lawns and roads.  Eventually, they end up in our waterways, leach toxic chemicals—including arsenic. That’s right, arsenic, the same chemical used to kill rats. Also lead cadmium and zinc. This leachate contaminates our environment and water, potentially poisoning our fish and wildlife.

Back to good news.

We did kick quite a few cigarette butts off the streets and into a trash bag. Take a look at the pics:


Major shout out to Sadie Kratt and her posse of environmental peeps from the University at Buffalo (UB). They killed it with an incredible Instagram story including an Earth Day play list (This Land Is Your Land), compelling factoids—and even an Earth Week trivia event.

Now what?

This community versus cig butts fight continues. Our challenge to you: make every day Earth Day. Help us kicking butts, build awareness and  end the cigarette butt problem in our community.