Volunteers clean up tobacco litter at local skate park

Volunteers clean park area and benches

Members of the Redlands Community Center Youth volunteers, known as “Teens Inspiring Others,” conducted their second tobacco litter cleanup on Monday, Nov 25.

As part of the #freeourbackyard campaign, the volunteers, partnering with the Common Vision Coalition and the Institute for Public Strategies, collected cigarette butts and tobacco litter around Sylvan Park’s picnic area and skate park. Within 40 minutes, the youth volunteers picked up more than 2,167 cigarette butts, tobacco-related litter and marijuana paraphernalia. 

Cigarette butts are a toxic, non-biodegradable substance that is left behind to pollute the environment and is the most commonly littered item in the United States. These items are especially problematic when they are found in areas that are frequented by children and pets. They pose an additional risk if they are ingested.

When smoking occurs in public areas, like parks, it also places the public at the risk of third-hand smoke, a toxic residue that is left on surfaces long after the smoke from devices such as cigarettes and electronic cigarettes has gone. According to the California Department of Public Health, third-hand smoke contains high levels of nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals. Some of the chemicals in third-hand smoke are different from those found in fresh smoke because it changes over time and becomes more toxic.

This cleanup was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Common Vision Coalition, Teens Inspiring Others and the Institute for Public Strategies to promote wellness in the community.

“I am excited to have my youth volunteers collaborate in a project that allows them to get out into their community, learn the importance of civic engagement, and advocate for themselves,” said Jennifer Michaels, Teens Inspiring Others Youth Volunteer Coordinator.

“It is great to see the teens in our community taking a passion in beautifying our public parks,” said Seth Henry, Community Gardens Coordinator. “They did an amazing job, and I was happy to see them working together as a team to serve their community.”