Ashburn Girl Scouts Work to Protect Wildlife from Cigarette Butts

A group of Ashburn-based Girl Scouts understands that while adults are free to smoke, some are unaware of the impacts cigarette butts have on the environment. They have a solution.

Eight elementary school girls from Ashburn Girl Scout Troop 4507 recently completed a Bronze Award project that recycles tin cans into cigarette butt receptacles. Those “Frenzie Cans,” which the girls decorated with river rocks, are free for smokers to pick up at Ashburn Farm’s Breezyhill, Summerwood and Windmill pools. The girls hope people use the cans when discarding their cigarette butts rather than flick them on the ground, where wildlife can become affected by the nicotine and nonbiodegradable filter material.

Troop Leader Alex Yarbrough said the girls—rising sixth-graders Amanda Bond, Ada Bradley, Layla Davis, Lizzie Grotski, Paige Lynch, Leah Richardson, Piper Shealy and Nikki Yarbrough—got the idea to make the Frenzie Cans from a trip they took to Savannah, GA, last summer. There, they visited the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and saw thousands of cigarette butts collected from the ocean that adversely affect marine life, especially sea turtles.

“They were shocked,” Yarbrough said. “They learned that they can help their community and the animals in their community.”

Yarbrough said her daughter, Nikki, also told the other girls about a time when she saw her neighbor flick a cigarette butt into her yard, setting her lawn and deck on fire.

During a campout last fall, the girls asked the person in charge of making peach cobbler to keep the large tin peach cans. Each of the eight girls later coated some of those cans in grout and stuck river pebbles to the sides for decoration and dropped them off at Ashburn Farm Association pools. They even drafted a set of directions for others to make their own Frenzie Cans, all in an effort to help save the environment and its diverse wildlife by encouraging the proper disposal of cigarette butts.

Girl Scouts from Troop 4507 are self-proclaimed ecosystem educators and work to protect the environment and wildlife through different projects.

The girls hope the cans keep many cigarette butts off the ground, out of bird nests and out of the stomachs of animals like squirrels, rabbits, foxes, skunks, geese, fish and turtles as far downstream as the Atlantic Ocean.

Self-proclaimed ecosystem educators, the girls love to help animals any way they can, Yarbrough said. They even visit the animal shelter each fall to visit with the dogs and cats.

The girls are headed to middle school this fall and will soon be working on their Silver Awards individually or in pairs. Yarbrough said their projects for that award will inevitably be aimed to help local wildlife.

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