February 27, 2017

Cleaning Up the TL

We took some of the stink out of the notoriously dirty Tenderloin yesterday when just 10 volunteers picked up an overwhelming 6,650 cigarette butts on 9 TL blocks in less than 2 hours. The TL is home to the highest concentration of kids in all of SF. That the city of San Francisco doesn’t do more to keep their home clean and safe, by at the very least enforcing their requirement that businesses must have cigarette receptacles, is nothing but a dirty shame. Not surprisingly, we found the highest concentrations of cigarette butts around SROs, bars, and corner stores. Ashcans and education will help this problem.

We did good, it felt good, didn’t smell so good….but butt picking rarely does. Many many thank yous from neighborhood, a few threats, and some serious good karma for the volunteers. Big thanks to Tradition for hosting our happy hour and to Boeddeker Park for being our home base. We’ll be recycling all butts through TerraCycle.

February 2, 2017

Salesforce Volunteers Grab 7,400 Butts

On a normal day, we’d be calling HR. But we’re talking about cigarette butts, and for Salesforce #Futureforce volunteers, this was no normal day. Salesforce took a stand for the environment last week when team leaders Stephanie and Jessica brought together 15 recent grads and interns from the #Futureforce for a volunteer day with Surfrider’s Hold on to Your Butt committee to clean up cigarette butt litter, and install the first cigarette recycling station (aka ashcan) in San Francisco’s Financial District.


We met up at Salesforce’s Mission and Fremont St. offices, I subjected them to my spiel (get the facts here), geared them up with gloves, grabbers, and buckets, and they hit the streets.
There’s a first time for everything, and though I didn’t ask, I’m betting this is the first time these tech workers started their day at Salesforce not in the building, but outside, on the streets of San Francisco, on a mission to pick up cigarette butts.

The rest of us set up camp at 45 Fremont, and unfurled our new banner designed by environmentalist ad agency gyro. First comment off the street was “That’s bulls**t”– but hey, we got the guy’s attention, and who knows, maybe he was just having a bad day. Regardless, his was the only negative response of the day — other passersby stopped, read, and appreciated our message.

We proceeded to install the Surfrider ashcan, sponsored by Salesforce. I’ll be emptying it for the time being, until the City recognizes the need to install and maintain ashcans all over San Francisco. With this install, Salesforce is not only demonstrating its commitment reducing plastic toxic waste, but also upholding San Francisco law – the SF Department of Public Works (DPW) requires that every business in San Francisco must have a cigarette litter receptacle.

Stalwart Surfrider volunteer Ken wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty – or a bit bloody – in getting our ashcan strapped to its new home. Next time we bring work gloves! Ken rocked it and has been granted the possibly dubious honor of being our official SF ashcan installer.

Know a place that needs one? Send them our ashcan sponsorship info and form – or shoot me an email at hotyb@sf.surfrider.org.

Our first customer was a little bewildered by our enthusiasm for his smoking, but proved a willing participant in recycling his butt.

We had the luck of a sunny day and the volunteers were out for nearly 2 hours circling the blocks around Salesforce, and bringing home the butts – an astonishing 7,400!!

We can’t say thank you enough for their help! And neither could all the folks who thanked our volunteers as they cleaned up our beautiful, filthy, dirty city.

We’ll be recycling all of these butts through TerraCycle. First though, they’ll make an appearance at our Message in a Bottle plastic pollution art and education event this weekend – Feb 3-5. Hope to see you there!

*3/8/2017 UPDATE* We received the official count from TerraCycle, and Salesforce volunteers collected an astounding 7,400 cigarette butts! Post updated from original estimate of 5,000 butts.