1. RACISM IN THE WATER
  2. THE “INFLATION REDUCTION ACT” IS NOW LAW. SO, HOW DOES IT HELP BLACK PHILLY?
  3. PHILADELPHIA HAS AN AIR TOXIN PROBLEM. WHAT IS THE CITY GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO TO FIX IT?
  4. Want to end gun violence now? Let’s save Philly block by block
  5. Here are steps Philly could take to cool urban heat islands
  6. The gas prices conversation we should be having
  7. Reclaiming Black land is challenging but not impossible
  8. Black clergy: Churches can sway views on climate crisis
  9. Can old Philadelphia refineries be cleaned up and restored?
  10. Here’s how Black Philadelphia can help in the environmental justice battle
  11. City Launches Environmental Justice Advisory Commission
  12. FIXING THE STRUGGLE SPACE
  13. SOLAR POLICIES ARE FALLING BEHIND – SO, HOW DO WE CATCH UP?
  14. IS PHILLY’S “TAP” WATER PROGRAM WORKING?
  15. Ian Harris
  16. Melissa Ostroff
  17. THE WATER BILLS ARE WAY TOO HIGH
  18. THE KEY TO APPROACHING FRONTLINE COMMUNITIES ON ALL THINGS GREEN
  19. ICYMI: Watch highlights, panels at ecoWURD’s 2021 Environmental Justice Summit
  20. BLACK MOTHERS NEED CLEANER & SAFER ENVIRONMENTS – IT’S A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE
  21. USING DANCE TO SAVE A RIVER
  22. TRACKING PHILADELPHIA’S AIR QUALITY
  23. GETTING RELIGIOUS ON CLIMATE CRISIS
  24. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  25. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  26. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  27. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  28. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  29. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  30. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  31. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  32. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  33. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  34. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  35. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  36. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  37. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  38. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  39. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  40. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  41. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  42. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  43. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  44. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  45. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  46. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  47. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  48. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  49. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  50. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  51. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  52. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  53. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  54. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  55. THE NATURE GAP
  56. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  57. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  58. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  59. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  60. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  61. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  62. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  63. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  64. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  65. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  66. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  67. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  68. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  69. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  70. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  71. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  72. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  73. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  74. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  75. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  76. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  77. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  78. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  79. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  80. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  81. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  82. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  83. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  84. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  85. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  86. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  87. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  88. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  89. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  90. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  91. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  92. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  93. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  94. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  95. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  96. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  97. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  98. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  99. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  100. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  101. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  102. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  103. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  104. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  105. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  106. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  107. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  108. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  109. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  110. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  111. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  112. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  113. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  114. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  115. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  116. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  117. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  118. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  119. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  120. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  121. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  122. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  123. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  124. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  125. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  126. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  127. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  128. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  129. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  130. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  131. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  132. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  133. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  134. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  135. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  136. Are You Going to Drink That?
  137. The Origins of ecoWURD
  138. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  139. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  140. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  141. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess
Monday, October 3, 2022
  1. RACISM IN THE WATER
  2. THE “INFLATION REDUCTION ACT” IS NOW LAW. SO, HOW DOES IT HELP BLACK PHILLY?
  3. PHILADELPHIA HAS AN AIR TOXIN PROBLEM. WHAT IS THE CITY GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO TO FIX IT?
  4. Want to end gun violence now? Let’s save Philly block by block
  5. Here are steps Philly could take to cool urban heat islands
  6. The gas prices conversation we should be having
  7. Reclaiming Black land is challenging but not impossible
  8. Black clergy: Churches can sway views on climate crisis
  9. Can old Philadelphia refineries be cleaned up and restored?
  10. Here’s how Black Philadelphia can help in the environmental justice battle
  11. City Launches Environmental Justice Advisory Commission
  12. FIXING THE STRUGGLE SPACE
  13. SOLAR POLICIES ARE FALLING BEHIND – SO, HOW DO WE CATCH UP?
  14. IS PHILLY’S “TAP” WATER PROGRAM WORKING?
  15. Ian Harris
  16. Melissa Ostroff
  17. THE WATER BILLS ARE WAY TOO HIGH
  18. THE KEY TO APPROACHING FRONTLINE COMMUNITIES ON ALL THINGS GREEN
  19. ICYMI: Watch highlights, panels at ecoWURD’s 2021 Environmental Justice Summit
  20. BLACK MOTHERS NEED CLEANER & SAFER ENVIRONMENTS – IT’S A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE
  21. USING DANCE TO SAVE A RIVER
  22. TRACKING PHILADELPHIA’S AIR QUALITY
  23. GETTING RELIGIOUS ON CLIMATE CRISIS
  24. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  25. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  26. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  27. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  28. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  29. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  30. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  31. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  32. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  33. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  34. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  35. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  36. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  37. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  38. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  39. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  40. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  41. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  42. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  43. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  44. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  45. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  46. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  47. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  48. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  49. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  50. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  51. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  52. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  53. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  54. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  55. THE NATURE GAP
  56. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  57. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  58. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  59. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  60. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  61. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  62. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  63. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  64. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  65. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  66. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  67. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  68. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  69. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  70. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  71. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  72. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  73. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  74. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  75. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  76. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  77. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  78. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  79. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  80. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  81. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  82. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  83. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  84. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  85. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  86. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  87. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  88. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  89. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  90. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  91. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  92. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  93. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  94. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  95. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  96. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  97. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  98. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  99. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  100. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  101. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  102. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  103. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  104. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  105. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  106. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  107. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  108. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  109. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  110. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  111. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  112. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  113. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  114. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  115. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  116. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  117. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  118. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  119. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  120. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  121. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  122. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  123. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  124. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  125. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  126. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  127. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  128. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  129. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  130. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  131. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  132. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  133. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  134. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  135. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  136. Are You Going to Drink That?
  137. The Origins of ecoWURD
  138. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  139. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  140. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  141. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess

Cigarette smoking numbers have been dwindling nationwide, but cigarette butts never go away.

The habit still produces what is, reportedly, the most pervasive litter problem in the nation – and one of the most worse on the planet.

And there are fewer places absorbing as many of those butts as Philadelphia, where smoking rates still trouble city health officials. Among the 30 largest U.S. cities, Philly ranks second (below Detroit) with the highest smoking rates, according to a 2017 Pew Trusts Philadelphia Research Initiative report. While there are many discussions and initiatives on what the city should do about it, the effort to limit the spread of those carcinogenic-spitting critters is lacking, particularly in low-income neighborhoods that need it the most.  

According to the Keep America Beautiful group, cigarette butts are the most littered item in the nation. In KAB’s 2009 “Litter In America,” the group estimated an “overall littering rate for cigarette butts [of] 65%, and tobacco products comprise 38% of all U.S. roadway litter.”

This isn’t just a problem nationwide. The idea of cigarette butts as a major part of the overall litter footprint is globally accepted. KAB’s Australian counterpart, Keep Australia Beautiful, has kept tabs on cigarette butt litter over the past few decades, discovering that it’s the most persistent form of litter across the continent.

Both organizations find that smokers don’t see tossing butts as inappropriate. In fact, most believe they’re being helpful by dropping butts to the ground and stomping the flame out. And as ecoWURD finds, most smokers cite a lack of proper receptacles for their butts – and claim they would use them if visible to the eye.

BARS AND BUTTS

Philly is a bigtime bar town. A stroll through Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Old City, Fairmount, and University City, among other neighborhoods, features some of the town’s most notable watering holes. Outside of these businesses, folks grabbing a smoke with friends is a common sight – along with smokers mindlessly flicking their butts to the ground as many before them have done for centuries. Reflexive cigarette tossing is compounded by all patrons viewing this non-stop litter exercise as an unwitting license to pile more trash on top of it.

The entry to some of these businesses – referred to as “transition points” by many anti-litter advocates – lack proper ways to discard cigarette butts. Even though many establishments provide receptacles for butts, it’s hard to determine an exact number of spaces who do. As a result, broader efforts by the city have been in motion to eradicate cigarette tips on the ground.

Some organizations have even found ways to recycle what seems like the unrecyclable.

TerraCycle, a Trenton, N.J.-based organization founded by Tom Szaky, a former Princeton University student, aims to capitalize on butt-tossing culture. By way of a Philly.com profile , bars across the city can purchase a $99 flame and weather resistant box for placement at the transition points. Subcontractors then take the waste to a processing center in Trenton, which transfers it to a Midwest plant where the material is broken down to a reusable state. That material builds ashtrays, fence posts, and even park benches.

TerraCycle has only been in operation for six years, but its goal to recycle all manner of waste is ambitious. An attempt made by ecoWURD to get hard numbers on how many receptacles are sold and distributed proved fruitless. “We don’t keep track of how many receptacles have been sold,” said a TerraCycle spokesperson. “We also have confidentiality agreements in place for our current customers.” Make Philadelphia Beautiful, an organization that receives grant money to install those receptacles, didn’t return our calls for comment on their business with Terracycle.

PHILADELPHIA IS A SMOKING CAPITOL

Meanwhile, Philly is still a bit of a smokestack.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed in its 500 Cities report that Philadelphia ranked second among major American cities that smoke the most. More than a quarter of the population reported themselves as smokers, falling behind Detroit, MI at nearly 30 percent and tied with Louisville, KY, yet edging out Memphis, TN at fourth.

Tobacco Free Kids recently examined the effects of the landmark 20-year old $246 billion Master Settlement Agreement between cigarette manufacturers and Attorneys General of 46 states.  It revealed that many states are still underfunding tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and that includes the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania spent just $15.8 million in Fiscal Year 2018 … far short of the CDC’s recommended $140 million, or just a little over 11 percent of the recommended total. Incidentally, that same report discovered that, in the meantime, Big Tobacco spent $415 million in Pennsylvania-targeted marketing funds.

Yet, nearly 13 percent of smokers are high school students, along with an estimated annual health care cost to the state of $6.3 billion.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BUTTS?

The city has responded to its cigarette butt litter issue by supporting a pair of small measures that highlighted the TerraCycle group: Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB), and the North Broad Renaissance (NBR). Race is a factor in that clean-up effort even if the city doesn’t mention it.  Black neighborhoods are the ones most impacted by litter, as seen via Clean PHL’s Litter Index map. But the litter-free strategies in those locations are limited.


Clean PHL points to “Helping Philly Communities Combat Cigarette Litter with Keep Philadelphia Beautiful” and touts the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet joining forces with KPB. This program would provide microgrants to neighborhood groups that would purchase cigarette butt litter receptacles. Among the grant money recipients Clean PHL named – including Fishtown Neighbors Association, the People’s Emergency Center, Chinatown Community Development Corporation, and Mayfair Community Development Corporation – none were Black. were the groups Clean PHL named as grant money recipients.  

Attempts to find out which neighborhoods put up receptacles was not easily determined. The Clean PHL page also doesn’t fully list where receptacles are getting placed, but asked readers to tweet images during their jaunts in West Philly, Fishtown, Mayfair, and Chinatown to its social media accounts.

The “That’s Your Butt!” campaign from NBR was also profiled on Clean PHL’s page, highlighting how the program routinely conducts surveys along the bustling North Broad corridor. In NBR’s 2017 State of North Broad report, it determined that cigarette litter was a top culprit. NBR also received support from Keep Philadelphia Beautiful to place receptacles along the corridor at a cost just shy of $12,000.

BUTT LITTER AND THE BLACK PUBLIC GOOD

Efforts made by community organizations and the city itself point to a need to raise awareness on how to combat cigarette litter. Yet, based on data and public documents found online, there isn’t much emphasis on Philadelphia’s poor communities of color. Low-income Black Philadelphians, appear frozen out of the large-scale efforts at environmental balance. A 2017 The Rooftop blog riffs on what the author experienced walking through North Philly. He echoes a common refrain from organizers and other sources that these issues affecting Black communities the most are – at best – low-tier priorities.

“Litter represents a much larger issue than laziness or ineptness,” Rooftop notes.It’s also a municipality issue, where trash and its environmental impact pales in comparison with the daily struggles of abject poverty. Does Black Philly see this issue as something it can collectively work to solve? Rooftop’s thoughts are centered, for example, on how the influence of Black churches can factor into reversing the troubled state of Philadelphia’s environment.


The city maintains – via its Streets department and the efforts of Clean PHL, as well as Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet – that all litter (especially cigarette butts) remains a priority worth tackling. Yet, it’s unclear if those efforts extend beyond the bustling bars and businesses and into the less tidy hoods that have fallen into disrepair. If education and elimination is the key, finding a simple pathway to help make all of Philadelphia as litter-free as possible must be a priority, too.