Peer Health Educator and the KU Center for Sustainability will clean up campus on Earth Day (April 22) with a display on Wescoe Beach.

To celebrate Earth Day, two student organizations will work to clean up campus. Peer Health Educator (PHE) and the KU Center for Sustainability student groups will be on Wescoe Beach and Stauffer-Flint Lawn from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m to educate about cigarette litter and pick up cigarette butts around campus.

Kelsey Fortin, a health educator at Watkins Health Center, said the groups plan to educate students on what happens environmentally when cigarette butts are littered. Volunteers will scatter around campus picking up cigarette butts, where they will display the litter in a litter box at Stauffer-Flint.

“We will be displaying the litter box showing cigarette butts so students can see the impact that is being made,” Fortin said.

Kirby Knipp, a senior and Peer Health Educators from Olathe, helped other Peer Health Educators and students within the KU Center for Sustainability group pick up cigarette butts in preparation for the event.

“We have each collected hundreds and hundreds of butts to showcase in the litter box and we aren’t done yet,” Knipp said.

Morgan Beaumann is a senior from Norton studying applied behavioral sciences. As part of her practicum, she has been working as an intern for the KU Center for Sustainability. Beaumann conducted research on smoking behaviors in preparation for this event.

“We are trying to understand why people believe it is okay to litter cigarette butts and how we can prevent them from doing so,” Beaumann said.

KU Center for Sustainability Education and Outreach Coordinator Kim Criner agreed. She said throwing out cigarette butts is the last “socially acceptable” form of littering.

“People think the butts are biodegradable, but that is a false perception,” Criner said. “The butts are full of toxins that leach into our environment, like our water supplies.”

The Peer Health Educators and KU Center for Sustainability groups want this event to lead to a cleaner campus and environment in the future. Both campus groups will use this opportunity to provide education on the current push towards banning tobacco on campus.

Students will also have the chance to receive free KU Tobacco-Free t-shirts and bracelets at the event.

Students who’d like to be involved should show up anytime between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wescoe Beach. They can also volunteer by signing up at before the event.

If unable to attend the event, students are encouraged to fill out a survey about cigarette butts on campus.

— Edited by Vicky Diaz-Camacho