Students pick up almost 8,000 cigarette butts and 800 pieces of trash on campus

May 02, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State students advocated for clean air and a clean environment last week by volunteering to pick up trash and cigarette butts across campus in honor of Earth Week. In four hours, 30 people, 27 of whom were students, picked up around 8,000 cigarette butts and 800 pieces of trash.

Students from HealthWorks, a peer health education program in University Health Services, members of the Association of Residence Hall Students (ARHS), and members of Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority collaborated on the initiative. The groups worked together to pick up cigarette butts and trash, complementing the work of the Office of Physical Plant, to demonstrate their concern for environmental health and the importance of not littering. In the four hours they worked, they were only able to cover about half of Penn State’s campus. OPP supported the effort by providing trash bags, pickers and gloves. 

“Although Penn State is obviously a beautiful campus, we tend to overlook the amount of cigarette butts that litter the ground,” said HealthWorks member and health policy and administration student Nicole Sullivan. “If you stop and look down on the side of the street on campus, you'll see a lot of cigarette butts and small pieces of trash that you never really notice on a regular basis.” 

HealthWorks students created an educational poster highlighting the environmental impact cigarette butts and trash have on marine life, trees and forests, waterways and oceans, and air pollution. The display included a three-dimensional bar graph representing the amount of collected trash versus cigarette butts. The students collected 10 times more cigarette butts than trash. The poster was on display in front of the HUB-Robeson Center on Earth Day, Friday, April 22. Many students stopped by to check out the poster, sign the smoke-free campus petition, and engage in conversation about advocating for health, a clean environment and sustainability.

  • HealthWorks trash pickup 2016

    Volunteers picked up 8,000 cigarette butts and 800 pieces of trash from the University Park campus in honor of Earth Day. 

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated June 18, 2021