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The Catalyst

Employees create ‘Adopt-a-Block’ campaign

While walking on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods, Mary Mauldin, Ed.D., executive director of the Office of Instructional Technology and Faculty Resources, became concerned about the amount of cigarette butts being discarded.

She was willing to do something about it so she offered to organize a team of employees to help pick up trash. That led to the creation of a new “Adopt-a-Block” campaign focusing on the growing issue of cigarette-butt trash.

Thomas Robinson, a grounds landscaper, cleans up cigarette butts in Cannon Park.
Thomas Robinson, a grounds landscaper, cleans up cigarette butts in Cannon Park.

The recent smoke-free medical district ordinance caused many employees to utilize the areas just outside the boundaries as smoking lounges, leaving their smoking litter behind. In order to continue to promote the health of the MUSC community and be a good neighbor, MUSC has launched an Adopt-a-Block campaign to help extinguish the problem.

The MUSC Adopt-A-Block program provides groups and individuals the opportunity to enhance the look of their community by beautifying and maintaining a street or section of a street. Any individual, group, organization, association or business can adopt a block. All members must be 18 years or older.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item — representing 32 percent of all items collected. Only 10 percent of cigarette butts are deposited in litter receptacles. The result is a sustained blight on area parks and roads.

Cigarette butts don’t disappear

  • About 95 percent of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a plastic that can persist in the environment.
  • Cigarette butts are harmful to waterways and wildlife — litter traveling through storm drains ends up in local streams, rivers, and waterways.
  • Cigarette butts pose a hazard to animals and marine life when they mistake filters for food.

How it works

  • Select a location to adopt (email for available streets)
  • Pick up litter along your adopted street — coordinate with other members of a team or group to make sure the area gets a clean sweep at least twice a month
  • Schedule cleanup dates and contact grounds supervisors to arrange safety vests and trash bag pick-up and drop off (

How to join

  • Email to request an application. Employees and students are encouraged to form teams and adopt streets near their school or place of work.
  • Collect litter on your cleanup dates. MUSC will provide all materials.
  • Complete a cleanup report.

The fine for littering in South Carolina ranges from $200 to $1,087 plus court assessments. Guilty convictions can lead to jail time from 30 days to one year. The court also will impose community service litter clean-up hours. In S.C., there is a 100 percent assessment on all state litter tickets, plus court fees.

For information on litter control in Charleston, visit the Keep Charleston Beautiful website at

June 6, 2013

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