Keep Golden Isles Beautiful (KGIB), in partnership with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, received the organization’s Cigarette Litter Prevention Program Award at its national conference in Orlando. One of the top Keep America Beautiful cigarette litter prevention programs in the country, KGIB’s “This is Litter Too” program is one of only three affiliates to receive the prestigious award.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the nation. Trillions enter the global environment each year, and many reach waterways and oceans via storm drains. Most people are unaware that cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate, a soft plastic that breaks down slowly and contributes to the accumulation of plastic in the oceans. Littered butts provide a pathway for toxins to enter aquatic environments as cigarette filters absorb harmful chemicals and metals from tobacco smoke, which can then leach into water and harm animals that ingest the polluted water or toxic debris.

To address this pervasive and harmful, yet preventable, source of pollution, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant partnered with KGIB, a Keep America Beautiful affiliate, to create and launch a cigarette litter prevention program. This partnership, which began in 2014, is funded by a grant from Keep America Beautiful. The goals of “This is Litter Too” are to raise awareness about the harmful effects of cigarette litter and encourage environmental stewardship among consumers with smokers as the target audience. UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant developed and distributed campaign materials and conducted public outreach at events along the Georgia coast.

“Keep Golden Isles Beautiful’s award-winning program is helping to reduce cigarette litter and educate community members about the problems associated with this common source of litter,” said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO, Jennifer Jehn.

“We thank our program partners UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, as well as the many Keep Golden Isles Beautiful volunteers who work tirelessly to reduce cigarette litter in our community,” said executive director Lea King-Badyna. “Together we are making strides in reducing the nation’s number one most littered item, cigarette butts, in our ecologically sensitive coastal Georgia landscape.”