Students pick up nearly 14,400 cigarette butts; demonstrate impact of littering

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State students demonstrated their commitment to clean air and the environment on Wednesday, April 12, by volunteering to pick up trash and cigarette butts at the University Park campus. Seventy-two students, representing various organizations, collected nearly 14,400 cigarette butts during the five-hour trash collection event.

The event was held in anticipation of Earth Week 2017.

“While Penn State is a beautiful campus, we tend to overlook the amount of cigarette butts that litter the ground,” said Nicole Sullivan, a senior health policy and administration student and member of HealthWorks. “If you stop and look at the streets lining campus, you’ll notice cigarette butts and other small pieces of trash that are often disregarded.”

In addition to students from HealthWorks, a peer health education program in University Health Services (UHS), student volunteers from UPUA, the Penn State Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils and UHS Healthy Penn State Ambassadors were also among those who participated. The groups worked together, complementing the work of OPP, to demonstrate their concern for environmental health and the importance of abstaining from littering.

OPP supported the effort by providing trash bags and pickers for the event.

While students were successful in reaching a vast area during the pickup, they were still unable to touch the entirety of campus—uncovering the very serious nature of littering.                                                                                                                                                                                                         

To demonstrate the full impact that littering has on the environment, HealthWorks students created an educational poster that highlights the effect of cigarette butts and trash on marine life, trees and forests, waterways and oceans and air pollution. The poster will be displayed in front of Palmer Art Museum during Earth Week on Wednesday, April 19—just days before global Earth Day April 22. The poster also illustrates the total sum of cigarette butts picked up at University Park.

The purpose of the display is to increase awareness of the harmful effects of littering, especially cigarette butts, and engage in conversation about advocating for health, a clean environment and sustainability.

Last Updated April 19, 2017