By Jessica Jasperson
As the warm weather finally makes its way to Moorhead, melting snow reveals not only grass, but also the litter from the past cold months.
Scattered around campus, especially near bus stops and designated smoking areas, are the remains of cigarettes. Although it may seem easier to toss that cigarette butt on the ground rather than disposing of it properly, wellness educators ask smokers to consider the impact of butts on our environment.
Carol Grimm, director of health and wellness at Hendrix Health Center, hired Flypaper Creative Services, a student-run ad agency at MSUM, to help spread the message of disposing butts in the provided bins. Sean Ferrian, advertising senior, is the account manager in charge of his team of four. They were assigned the project at the beginning of the semester and finished just before spring break.
“She (Grimm) didn’t want us to make smokers feel uncomfortable,” Ferrian said. “She just wants them to be aware to pick up their cigarette butts and not just throw them on the ground. That’s how we came up with the squirrel idea.”
Students, faculty and staff frequently see squirrels foraging and frolicking in the mall, around trash cans and near bus stops. Littered butts can be a problem for these squirrels and other small animals that mistake the litter for food.
Ferrian said his group made it fun while still spreading awareness about the issue. The posters show squirrels holding picket signs reading “Nuts not Butts!” and “No more butts!”
Not only do animals suffer from cigarette remains, but also the environment as a whole. It takes between 18 months to 10 years for a filter to degrade depending on the brand. If butts are not disposed of properly, they get into storm drains and eventually to streams and rivers.
The posters give smokers a friendly reminder of how tossing butts on the ground affects other things in the environment, which ultimately was a goal of the team. Jordan Reinertson designed the posters. Shellby Zelmer dealt with public relations, and Ethan Evenson was the copywriter of the team.
“For this project I liked where we went with this, because we had five ideas we emailed her,” Ferrian said. “I thought this was a good idea to bring humor to it and not offend people by saying all cigarettes are gross or something like that.”
Ferrian’s group went as far as asking smokers whether the posters offended them. The smokers reacted to the posters positively and appreciated not being attacked. “That’s good,” Ferrian said. “We can keep them happy while keeping our client happy.”
Grimm and her team of wellness educators will help spread the campaign around campus by hanging the laminated posters in specific smoking areas soon.