Cigarette Butts are Not Biodegradable

The cigarette butt you throw on the ground stays there until it is picked up. Photo by Vi Waln

By Vi Waln

During the annual celebration at Rosebud, there were lots of complaints about trash. People didn’t like seeing litter all over the fairgrounds. Overflowing trash bins were an eyesore.

However, there were many fair goers who didn’t give a second thought when tossing their trash on the ground. For instance, candy wrappers were left all along the parade route. Later that afternoon, the wacipi grounds were strewn with used paper napkins, Styrofoam containers and plastic cups.

Even though there seemed to be trash everywhere during the 4-day annual celebration at Rosebud, we have to send Kudos out to our tribal Solid Waste crew. They kept on top of all your trash by disposing of it all in a timely manner. We can also thank the many children who camped with their family during the fair for their hard work in keeping the grounds clean. These young people were recruited by Rosebud’s Solid Waste program each morning to pick up trash. Each bag filled with fairgrounds trash was traded to Solid Waste for a strip of carnival tickets.

People who drove by the fairgrounds on Monday morning noticed much of the trash was gone, thanks to the efforts of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Solid Waste program. In the past, there have been times when no effort was made to pick up the post-Rosebud Fair trash. It was all left on the ground to blow away.

So we didn’t see any rubbish caught on the fence at the softball field this week. Many of us appreciate those hard-working children who kept the fairgrounds picked up every morning during the fair. Also, the Solid Waste crews and the day laborers did an excellent job of clearing the fairgrounds of all that unsightly litter tossed aside by fair goers.

We hear many people complain regularly about all the trash in the ditches as they drive down the road. Yet, some of these same people will toss out trash from their vehicle without a thought as to where their garbage winds up. The blame always seems to fall on the Solid Waste program – it’s all their fault when trash winds up in ditches, in our yards, in our streets and stuck to barbed wire fences.

When everyone decides to take personal responsibility for disposing of their trash properly, the litter we tend to see everywhere might not be such a huge problem. Some people will take their bags of household trash and throw them in the ditches. This trash eventually winds up strewn along highways. One windy day can scatter that same litter for miles.

Sometimes families will clean up their yards and along their roads in an effort to keep their land free of trash. Yet, other people will drive along those same roads and throw their aluminum cans, empty food wrappers, glass containers and plastic bottles out into the ditches. Some people feel like it is a losing battle to keep their yards and land clear of debris.

Photo courtesy of Northern Illinois University

Another major litter problem is cigarette butts. People have attempted to clean up all the trash on the fairgrounds. Yet, when you take a closer look, the cigarette butts are still there because most smokers really don’t give a thought about leaving their waste behind. Consequently, the cigarette butts you threw on the ground while you were at the at the Rosebud fairgrounds will still be there next year.

Cigarette filters are a form of plastic and are not biodegradable. Cigarette butts can be found in all the places where people smoke. On the reservation, we see people smoking cigarettes everywhere. Unfortunately, most cigarette smokers have zero regard for their designated area, or any area for that matter. That is, a smoker will simply toss a cigarette butt on the ground, step on it and then walk away. It’s gross to see cigarette butts laying all over the place.

We can all help to keep our homelands free of trash by disposing of it in dumpsters. Smokers can help keep our reservation free of cigarette butts by disposing of their filters in an appropriate container instead of all over the ground. Children who watch adults throw trash on the ground and walk away from it will do the same thing. Please respect our land by keeping it clean.











Published by Vi Waln


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