Count your butts and win

The local organization Asheville GreenWorks plans to give away 10 cigarette-butt receptacles to local businesses, but first the nonprofit is calling for a litter-sweep contest. That means counting (and cleaning up) the butts and other cigarette debris littering the sidewalks outside your business, reporting the results and signing up for a chance to win one of the collectors, says Allison McGehee, GreenWorks’ clean community coordinator.

It’s part of the organization’s Cigarette Litter Prevention program, which is funded by a recent $1,500 grant from Keep America Beautiful, McGehee explains. After receiving the grant late last year, GreenWorks completed a cigarette-litter sweep along College Street. In an effort that took about three hours, staff picked up about 2,500 butts, she says. The group also gave away portable ashtrays — coin-purse-size, metal-lined containers that hold about six butts.

“We’re trying to make people think about it before they toss their butts on the street,” McGehee says.

GreenWorks also installed several butt collectors, later followed by another litter sweep. McGehee recalls collecting about 2,100 butts. That’s a slight improvement, but as she points out, ongoing construction projects along College Street have sometimes blocked access to the new receptacles.

GreenWorks has also received numerous requests from businesses that would like to install butt collectors, which cost about $75 each. With a limited number of collectors available through the grant, McGehee came up with the contest approach: Ten local businesses will be awarded either a wall-mounted or a free-standing butt collector. Litter-sweep participants will have the best chance of winning, McGehee emphasizes. The collected data will be added to the results of other litter sweeps funded by the Keep America Beautiful grant, she says.

To participate, contact Asheville GreenWorks for an application and return it by March 11. Receptacles will be awarded on March 18. Contact Allison at 254-1776 or

— Margaret Williams, contributing editor


About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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