One Loyola senior is working on a campaign to reduce the cigarette litter on campus.
“Just recently, I’ve started looking around campus and I notice there’s a ton of cigarette litter,” the 21-year-old international studies major said. “There’s a lot of cigarette receptacles around campus that it seems people neglect to use.”
Francone explained that cigarette butts have become a growing issue within the university, as more and more are thrown on the ground instead of being put into the provided cigarette bins. In response, he proposes a program to promote the correct disposal of cigarettes, which he plans to call Put-It-Out LUC.
The focus isn’t smoking itself but the negative environmental impact of cigarette litter when it’s thrown on the ground.
“It’s not an anti-smoking campaign,” Francone said. “It’s strictly for putting cigarettes out in the receptacles.”
The campaign is expected to reach out to smokers, encouraging them to use the cigarette disposals around campus instead of dropping the butts on the ground. Not only would fewer butts on the ground contribute to a cleaner campus, but it would address environmental issues such as water pollution that are caused by cigarette litter.
Francone plans to use data recorded by professional sources as well as data from the campus as part of Put-It-Out LUC. Francone has already recorded a few statistics on cigarette litter by counting the amount of butts left on the ground in certain campus areas, such as around the Damen Student Center and de Nobili Hall. One of the most prominent areas of cigarette litter was in front of the Information Commons, he said.
Other statistics he has used to relate to the time it takes for cigarettes to naturally decompose. It can takes up to 10 years for the filter on a cigarette to fully decay, according to data compiled by Clean Virginia Waterways, an organization dedicated to keeping waterways clean.
Cigarette filters are made up of a compound called cellulose acetate, a plastic that breaks down slowly, according to the organization. Most of the time, the filters just end up in sewers, Francone said, adding that a lot of chemical solution from cigarette litter will eventually end up in Lake Michigan, posing a threat to the organisms that live there and to the people who get there water from it.
Francone added that as an environmentally conscious school, Loyola should do more to address the problem.
Getting more data on how the litter pollution impacts the lake is also part of his program, Francone said.
To address the problem, he thought of ideas to make it easier for smokers to dispose of their cigarettes properly. Some of these include adding cigarette disposable bins in more convenient and populated areas around campus as well as making the cigarette disposal bins a brighter color to make them more noticeable.
Other methods that encourage smokers to create less waste include rolling their own cigarettes or using electronic ones. These methods, however, are the smokers’ choice.
Francone contacted Loyola’s Facilities Department to help with the campaign. The matter was discussed with William Curtin, Loyola’s director of Environmental Services. Because the project could potentially help Loyola look cleaner, Curtin said he was in support of the initiative.
“We just have to let people know where the cigarette disposals are and get them to use them,” he said.
Curtin and Francone proposed that Put-It-Out LUC could reach out to smokers through various forms of media, such as Facebook and informational events.
Student opinions vary among smokers and nonsmokers, and many students did not wish to state their opinions on the subject. The few who did give their views showed support for the program.
“There is a heavy amount of [cigarette litter], and nothing is really being done about it,” freshman biology major Taegh Sohkey, 19, said. “In fact, I’ve been tracking one cigarette butt outside of Cuneo Hall since I began my time here, and it’s never been picked up.”
Another student expressed similar views on the litter around campus.
“Most of our walkways are made of bricks, so whenever a [cigarette] finds its way into one of the cracks, it’s bound to be in there for good,” said freshman Jesus Martinez. “Next time you go out for a walk, take a close look at the ground and you’ll be ashamed at what we are allowing to happen at our school.”
For now, Put-It-Out LUC doesn’t have an official date of activity, according to Francone, and it is currently in the initial stages of becoming an established program.