Cigarette Litter Campaign


This box contains 10,000 cigarette butts, the amount littered every 2 – 3 days in San Rafael.

Bin your Butts!

Help San Rafael Clean eliminate cigarette litter by raising awareness of this toxic and pervasive form of litter and joining us in our efforts to remove it from our streets, parks, creeks and beaches. Some little-known facts include:

  • Cigarettes are the number one item picked up on Coastal Cleanup Day.
  • An estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year.
  • Each butt leaches toxins that can kill a fish in one liter of water within 96 hours.
  • Most cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate and do not biodegrade.
What You Can Do as a Smoker
  • Stub your cigarette completely out, then use a nearby trash can.
  • Get a pocket ashtray or stash a metal mint container in your purse or pack.
  • Use a coffee cup or specially designed cup holder in your car.
  • Most people just don’t know that their cigarette butts are real litter with real consequences. Encourage others to use a receptacle, too.
What You Can Do as a Business Owner
  • Purchase a cigarette receptacle for your staff and customers.
  • OR make a simple one using a coffee can or other container.
  • Let your employees know that cigarettes are non-biodegradable litter and must be disposed of like any other plastic trash.
  • Post educational window decals and signs.
  • Sweep your sidewalk and work areas regularly to capture all forms of litter.
  • Contact us to get stickers, signs, and decals for windows and cigarette receptacles.
The Cigarette Eater Meter

The Cigarette Meter Eater is a project designed to educate our community about the dangers of cigarette litter. It is an interactive education piece as well as a unique receptacle for capturing cigarette litter. During the summer of 2013, it was used to spearhead a campaign to raise awareness and collect funds for charity. For each cigarette butt placed in the 8-foot tall “meter,” a two cents were donated to a nonprofit, San Rafael’s St. Vincent de Paul Society. The discarded butts were sent to TerraCycle, a company that uses them to produce industrial pallets and other items.

The Meter appears in the downtown city plaza in June of every year. Would you like to bring this exciting educational program to your community? Contact us to make arrangements at 415-485-3071 or 415-485-3407.

Fire Chief Chris Gray and Oscar put the first cigarette butt into the Meter.

About the Artists

Two distinguished Marin artists are responsible for realizing the vision of the San Rafael Clean coalition in a uniquely compelling work of art. Their creativity, skill, and many years of experience in public art contributed to the success of this project. We would like to thank Ventana Amico & Enrique Goldenberg for making this project such a success.

Thanks to our Sponsors

  • Bellam Self Storage & Boxes
  • City of San Rafael
  • Cigarette Eater Meter Team (Brian Auger, Cory Bytof, Terri Fashing, Andree Jansheski, Carla Koop, Libby McQuiston, Devi Peri, Laurie Sheldon)

Special Thanks

We could not have completed this project without the support of San Rafael High School teachers Larry Oliver and Bob Holt, who gave so generously of their time, tools, and shop space.

Bounty for Butts

Volunteers from the San Rafael Clean campaign piloted a unique litter-reduction program in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul Society in San Rafael called the “Bounty for Butts” Cigarette Buyback Program

Diners of the St. Vincent de Paul dining room participated in a ‘buy-back’ program wherein they received $1 per ounce of discarded cigarette litter. Participants were given gloves and instructions to collect the butts, which they then dried and placed in bags. With startling results: In the first two weeks of the program, 90,000 cigarette butts were turned in, and over the course of the two-month pilot, over 230,000 cigarette butts were collected!

Initial funding was provided by SRC Business Partner Bellam Self Storage & Boxes and several Chamber members including Marin Sanitary Service, Cal-Pox, Inc., Fast Forward, Ken’s Carpets, Delicious, Inc., and Adrien Poirier.

Volunteers Libby McQuiston and Laurie Sheldon initiated the idea. They reached out to St. Vincent’s, which coordinated the program. The program benefits everyone because it gives folks in financial need an opportunity to contribute in a positive way, while receiving much-needed income.

Oscar the Bulldog Coaster Program

Coasters_glass_redSan Rafael Clean volunteers distributed 20,000 drink coasters to bars and restaurants in San Rafael to educate smokers about the need to dispose of their cigarette butts properly. SRC mascot, Oscar the Bulldog, appears on the coasters, telling smokers, “Don’t Trash San Rafael.” Thanks to Evan Larsen for his wonderful artwork, and to our volunteers for printing and distributing the coasters!

Thanks to the following sponsors for their support:

  • Bellam Self-Storage & Boxes
  • MCSTOPPP, Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program
  • InnerWorkings
  • San Francisco Toyota
  • Corporate Media Systems