No Butts About It!

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A Kappa Sigma member cleans the streets of San Francisco. Courtesy of Rebecca Delgado Rottman.

What would you rather do on a wet, cold and windy day in San Francisco? If you ask Academy of Art University fraternity brothers, Pi Upsilon chapter of Kappa Sigma, they would rather be picking up cigarette butts at Fisherman’s Wharf and Aquatic Park. Wind and rain often carry cigarette butts into waterways, where the toxic chemicals in the cigarette filters leak out, threatening the quality of the water and the creatures that live in it. The fraternity brothers picked up nearly 5,000 cigarette butts from these locations in one day. And last month, they were at Ocean Beach with a similar result. Last year, in Union Square alone, they collected nearly 10,000 cigarette butts.

Cigarette butts are reported to comprise an estimated 25 to 50 percent of all collected litter items from roads and streets—making them a concern for the quality of urban life. Cigarette butts contain all the carcinogenic chemicals, pesticides and nicotine that make tobacco use the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, yet they are commonly, unconsciously and inexcusably dumped by the trillions (5.6 trillion and counting) into the global environment each year.

Kappa Sigma is committed to the standards of fellowship, leadership, scholarship and service. They take these values and their responsibility to the city of San Francisco seriously. Since 2008, the fraternity brothers have been cleaning the streets downtown every other weekend when school is in session. They pick-up cigarette butts and other street litter, and abate graffiti on public properties on 16 city blocks (Post, Sutter, Bush & Pine; from Mason to Leavenworth Streets).

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Kappa Sigma members clean the streets of San Francisco. Courtesy of Rebecca Delgado Rottman.

The estimated monetary value based on volunteer time provided by the fraternity so far in 2015 is approximately $24,000 and we’re still counting. Lastly, Kappa Sigma holds the distinction of the highest community service hours among other Kappa Sigma chapters in the nation. In 2009, they received recognition for outstanding leadership and devotion to service from California State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and SF Board of Supervisors President David Chiu.

This cleanup effort is a partnership between the Academy of Art University, the Department of Public Works and Sodexo Campus Services. Cioppino’s Restaurant and Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District has also partnered with the Kappa Sigma fraternity to keep San Francisco clean, green and beautiful! 

Do your part! Don’t be a litterbug!