Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Georgia’s City of Brunswick and Glynn County reap the benefits of a rich coastal estuarine and beach ecology. In this pristine ecological area, land-based litter – especially cigarette litter – pose a significant challenge to the health of the vital salt marsh estuaries because storm drains transport litter directly to the sea. Found on the ground, spotted in the marsh and seen floating in the ocean, cigarette litter is a huge problem in the Golden Isles of Georgia.
Realizing both land and sea are adversely affected by cigarette waste, Keep America Beautiful affiliate Keep Golden Isles Beautiful (KGIB) utilized a third Cigarette Litter Prevention Program grant to continue a community-wide comprehensive cigarette litter prevention program, “This is Litter Too.”
Cigarette litter also becomes less of a problem when committed volunteers, such as Sam Rumph, a Starbucks’ barista on St. Simons Island, take it upon themselves to help spread the message that cigarette butts are litter.
“When I’m on my break, I’ll go outside and pick up cigarette butts and other trash,” 25-year-old Rumph told reporter Larry Hobbs from The Brunswick News. “And I do that pretty much everywhere I go. If I see a cigarette butt, I’ll pick it up. I try to keep it positive. I won’t preach to anybody else — I just want to show by example that it’s the right thing to do.”
Rumph’s efforts began after talking to a co-worker who had brought in KGIB’s educational information about the campaign to their Starbucks location. Rumph’s co-worker “was so inspired by our campaign, she did exactly what we hope others will do – she spread the message about what she learned,” said Lea King-Badyna, executive director of KGIB.
Rumph, who was a smoker at the time, committed to changing his behavior of flicking his cigarette butts on the ground and started to clean up around the store. So much so, in fact, that he accumulated more than 100 hours of volunteer time for KGIB, a milestone which led to a $1,000 contribution by Starbucks to KGIB.
“He stopped smoking altogether and now he’s out there picking up trash,” King-Badyna said. “He’s one of the people in the Golden Isles that is truly making a difference.”
With the help of volunteers like Rumph, KGIB continues to spread the word throughout the Golden Isles. “We are mega-excited with how our Cigarette Litter Prevention Program is going this year,” added King-Badyna, who reported the affiliate distributed 3,000 “This is Litter Too”-branded bio-degradable drink coasters to 19 local bars and restaurants in the past week using funds from its Keep America Beautiful grant.
Continue to read more about KGIB volunteer Sam Rumph and KGIB’s litter prevention efforts in The Brunswick News.
(Photo courtesy, Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News)