Heroes

Cigarette butts are gross and smelly, and once they're on the street, they don't go away. Until now.

We sent a team of volunteers to Union Square to see how many cigarette butts they could pick up in an hour. Here's what they found.

Cigarette butts are gross and smelly, and once they're on the street, they don't go away. Until now.

A new campaign from DoSomething.org and truth is seeking to put an end to a major smoking-related problem, without shaming smokers.

To do this, they're raising awareness about where cigarette butts do (and don't) end up when smokers are done smoking them.


FACT: Cigarette butts are the most frequently littered item.

Eww. Gross.

The new campaign is called, "Get the Filter Out" and it has a noble goal: to encourage people to pick up littered cigarette butts in their communities.

FACT: 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts end up as toxic trash every year.

That's kind of a lot. Too big to even wrap your head around.

FACT: Cigarette butts are NOT biodegradable.

When you throw your cigarette butt on the ground, it doesn't biodegrade and disappear. It just sits there. And sits there. And leaches harmful toxins into the ground. And then sits there some more. It never goes away.

Not unless someone picks it up and disposes of it properly.

To understand the scope of this problem, Welcometoterranova brought a group of volunteers to Union Square in NYC.

The goal? To see how many cigarette butts we could pick up in an hour.

The result was a bit jarring. Literally.

They filled a huge jar with cigarette butts.

What's so cool about this campaign is that the goal is not to shame people out of smoking. There are plenty of other campaigns doing that. The "Get The Filter Out" campaign is all about raising awareness about the massive environmental problem of cigarette butts collecting on the ground as litter.

According to truth, 23% of teens smoked in 2000. As of 2014, only 8% of teens smoke. That's a huge decline in teenage smokers, but (perhaps more importantly for the environment) it's also a lot fewer cigarette butts being tossed out into the street.

So, really, I dare you.

Grab some gloves (seriously, make sure you have gloves) and a plastic resealable bag, and spend 10 minutes in your neighborhood collecting littered butts. The environment will thank you.

Check out what happened when we went to Union Square below:

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.