Keep your butts outta the river

Jay FitzFun Outdoors

Tennessee State Parks have taken a step to help prevent cigarette litter – and ultimately fire hazards –  all while making a commitment for 32 campgrounds and three marinas to recycle the plastic from every cigarette butt collected.

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful is providing Tennessee State Parks with 109 cigarette receptacles that feature art wraps with information about the consequences of cigarette litter in our waterways.

The collected cigarette butts will then be shipped to a company called TerraCycle, that covers the shipping costs and recycles the plastic microfibers found in cigarette filters into new plastic items, such as outdoor furniture.

“To have 35 Tennessee State Park facilities lead in such an elaborate river stewardship effort is truly going to make an impact for the waterways in Tennessee,” said Kathleen Gibi, executive director for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful. “Littered cigarettes are surprisingly prolific and harmful for our waterways, so the state parks’ commitment is a great step in protecting the Tennessee River and its tributaries for generations to come.”

In 2019, TVA funding as well as a special litter grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation covered the cost of the design and printing of the initial art wraps for the receptacles. TVA then connected KTNRB with the 200+ marinas, campgrounds, and resorts along the Tennessee River watershed.

Two grants and two years later, KTNRB’s program has only grown since then. The grant from KAB will also fund the distribution of 90 additional receptacles for new participating sites. Marinas, campgrounds and other destinations located within the Tennessee River watershed may submit requests for the free cigarette waste receptacles here.

More than 30 Tennessee State Parks offer camping opportunities. “We are pleased to join Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful in such a worthy effort,” said Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “The river is an important natural resource for our state, and Tennessee State Parks are committed to help keep it that way.”

For information on KTNRB’s ongoing efforts to preserve, improve and protect the river, go here.

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