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City's green team cleans up the streets

Farmington city employee and green team member Jennifer Dullum picks up cigarette butts Monday in Farmington.

In the past decade, cigarette smoking in America has decreased 28 percent, yet cigarette butts remain the most littered item in the U.S. and across the globe.

About 95 percent of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic which does not quickly degrade and can persist in the environment. Filters are harmful to waterways and wildlife. About 18 percent of litter, traveling primarily through storm water systems, ends up in local streams, rivers, and waterways. Nearly 80 percent of marine debris comes from land-based sources. Cigarette butt litter poses a hazard to animals and marine life when they mistake filters for food.

The city of Farmington has a Green Team that develops strategies and environmental programs to preserve and protect our natural resources and reduce our environmental impact through education and promotion.

The Green Team volunteered to collect cigarette litter from downtown sidewalks for one hour on Oct. 4, 2010. In that short time, team members collected 1,614 cigarette butts. The intent of the project is to provide education about water quality and downtown beautification.

Lack of awareness about the environmental impact of cigarette litter and insufficient ash receptacles contributes to cigarette litter. Farmington residents may not be aware that several ash receptacles are available outside city buildings and some downtown businesses.

The Green Team also stenciled a "DUMP NO WASTE, DRAINS INTO THE RIVER" message in front of several downtown storm drains as a reminder to keep stormdrains clear of litter.

More information is available at