Green fee may help clean smoker trash

Students and the Office of Sustainability say Main Campus faces an overflow of cigarette butt trash.

Main Campus students en route to classes on any given day will notice trails of cigarette butts. Despite the university’s efforts to maintain the litter — the many on-campus stone containers — Temple still has many cigarette butts in the streets, on the sidewalks and by the entrances of buildings such as the Student Center and Anderson and Gladfelter halls.

Office of Sustainability Director Sandra McDade said the problem isn’t just maintaining litter but maintaining smoking in general.

“Really, I would say you shouldn’t smoke at all,” McDade said. “What people are doing with cigarette butts is a byproduct of a bigger issue.”

Students said the disposing of cigarette butts becomes problematic because many stone containers are often filled, leaving only the ground as an option for getting rid of the cigarette butts.

“I’ve seen people walking [around campus], and they don’t feel like carrying the cigarette butt, so they just go to a trash can,” freshman English major Julia Scheib said.

Junior education major Natalie Ramos-Castillo said she doesn’t smoke cigarettes often, but when she does, she tries to dispose of them in the stone containers.

“If they’re around, I try to use them, but if they’re not, I [put them out] and put them in the trashcan,” Ramos-Castillo said.

Ramos-Castillo said she noticed other students using trashcans to dispose of their cigarette butts as well, especially if the stone containers are not emptied. She warned against it as a primary means of cigarette butt disposal, especially after she witnessed a fire outside Barton Hall last Thursday as a result of a cigarette butt melting the bottom of a trashcan.

Campus Safety Services could not be reached for confirmation on the fire.

McDade said she wasn’t sure about the procedures for maintaining the stone containers but that students should complain to facilities if the containers go unemptied.

Compared with other campuses, Temple’s cigarette litter may be problematic.

Ramos-Castillo said she visited Ohio State University and noticed little to no cigarette litter on its campus.

“It’s the cleanest campus I’ve ever seen, and it’s probably because they have a lot more money, but they’re really clean,” she said.

The University of Pennsylvania boasts clean sidewalks on its campus, free of cigarette butts. The university has fewer cigarette butt disposals – approximately 3-foot-tall thin, metal containers, located outside only a small handful of buildings, including Claudia Cohen Hall, near 36th and Spruce streets.

Penn sophomore Vince Mannino, a computer engineering and economics major, said it’s because students on Penn’s campus don’t smoke, and if they do, it’s a rarity.

“The correlation [between smoking and students] shows that Penn students are more environmentally concerned and smoke less,” he said. “The higher the income, you smoke less, the better the education, you smoke less.”

According to surveys in last year’s Princeton Review Best 368 Colleges, Temple was said to be a campus where “almost everyone smokes.”

This year’s edition, Best 371 Colleges, the survey said “[almost] no one smokes,” despite the number of cigarette butts that cover the ground.

Students for Environmental Action President Korin Tangtrakul, a senior geography and urban studies and environmental studies major, said if an evaluation is completed that speaks to a need to alleviate the problem with more cigarette butt containers, she will find whether the proposed Green Fee may assist in the future.

Tangtrakul said the issue is related to campus culture.

“I have a hard time putting words to it,” she said. “But I don’t think Temple students are afraid to throw cigarette butts on the ground.”

Joshua Fernandez can be reached at josh@temple.edu.

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