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Litter Blitz focuses on cigarette butts in Oklahoma City

OKC Beautiful is hosting its annual Litter Blitz trash pickup throughout the city in April.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: April 21, 2011
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More than 10,000 people in the metro area are participating in OKC Beautiful's annual Litter Blitz this month.

Litter Blitz is hosted in the spring to clean up parks as families begin using them during the warmer months, said Lisa Synar, executive director of OKC Beautiful.

The city has about 200 parks, she said.

“With our Oklahoma wind, we have a big litter problem,” Synar said. “We want to encourage people to dispose of their litter properly so our city can be beautiful for our residents and for our visitors.”

This year, volunteers are focusing on cigarette butts, Synar said. They're tracking which areas have a high concentration of cigarette litter, and OKC Beautiful officials will then go back and install cigarette butt receptacles. The campaign likely will begin downtown and then move to city parks, Synar said.

Cigarette butts are the No. 1 littered item in the country, Synar said.

“People don't look at cigarette butts as litter,” Synar said.

“They think they've done their job if they've smashed it on the ground and got the fire out.”

More than 150 groups are participating this year, and Synar said she hopes some of them will make an ongoing commitment to cleaning up a specific area. For example, Oklahoma City Thunder employees picked up trash in Woodson Park, and the company then adopted the park.

They planted 14 trees in honor of their 14 players, Synar said, and the group plans to visit the park monthly.