Addressing the Number One Item Found During the International Coastal Cleanup.
In 1999, an employee of Philip Morris USA learned that during the International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers around the world pick up more cigarette butts each year than any other item—millions of them. The company took action, calling to ask Ocean Conservancy how they could help, and a partnership was born. Today, Philip Morris USA, which is owned by Altria Group, works to help smokers dispose of smoking-related items properly. "Research shows that often, smokers don't think of cigarette butts as litter," says Alisia Rudd, senior manager of corporate responsibility for Altria.
Altria provides funding for materials and other support for the thousands of Cleanup events worldwide, helping modernize our data collection and event registration systems, and supplying travel stipends to help coordinators who might not otherwise be able to attend the annual Coordinators' Conference. Most recently, an Altria-funded pilot project provided new insights into working with people to change behaviors that cause marine debris. And hundreds of employees of Altria's companies give of themselves each year at Cleanup events. Altria also supports community prevention programs with Keep America Beautiful (another Cleanup partner).
At the 2009 Cleanup in Washington, DC, Alisia saw the scope of the watershed litter problem firsthand. "I saw a lot of cigarette butts, but I also saw a lot of food packaging, bottles, cans, rubber tires—all kinds of things," she says. "And I realized that no single entity can solve the problem alone. It will take a combined effort of corporations, individuals, and organizations to educate people about the impacts of their behavior."
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