Wellness educators tackle cigarette butts

by Darby Fike

fikeda@mnstate.edu

Little green flags are all it takes to make a point.

MSUM wellness educators are partnering with student ad agency Flypaper to put on the campaign “Stache Your Ash.” They will be using green flags to help raise awareness of how many cigarette butts litter campus and their impact on the environment.

The campaign kicks off Oct. 5, and wellness educators will be putting up green flags where they find cigarette butts on the ground. The flags will stay up for a week to raise awareness about how many cigarette butts are along MSUM’s sidewalks. 

Shae Bodrero is the wellness educator heading the campaign. She said it’s been a couple years in the making.

“I’m excited that this is the first year we’ve been able to follow through with it,” she said.

With more than 500 flags ready, they’re hoping that as they pop up around campus, students will become interested in why the flags are there.  Bodrero is especially excited to see student reactions.

“[They] will be surprised what those green flags mean if they take the time to learn what they flags are for,” Bodrero said.

“It’s nice that they’re going about cleaning up the environment instead of just putting down smokers,” junior Amy Bechtle said. “I think it’s a good idea if they know what the flags stand for.”

For students to understand more on what the flags stand for, the team put QR codes on some of the flags. All one has to do is scan it with their phone, and it will bring them to more information about the cause. Flypaper has also helped with putting out graphics, posters and press releases around campus for students to learn more.

According to preventcigarettelitter.org,  the littering rate for cigarette butts is 65 percent, and most of them end up scattered across city streets, parks and waterways.

“It’s important to reduce the amount of waste we are producing as a campus,” Bodrero said. “We are trying to encourage accountability for waste also.”

They will make sure to hit the main smoking spots on campus, including the front gateway and the bus stop on Sixth Ave., where many smokers can be found.  The wellness educators will be handing out personal ashtrays to them. One of the main reasons smokers litter is that there is a lack of places to dispose of butts and they want to change that.

“Take responsibility for your trash,” Bodrero said. “We’re not here to condemn smokers, we just want people to be responsible for their litter.”

The campaign continues through Oct. 10.

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