TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Four high school students in Tainan have received plenty of praise from the public for their effort to clear cigarette butts off the streets.
In March, a photo of National Tainan First Senior High School student Yang Tzu-chen (楊子賝) picking up cigarette butts off a drain cover with chopsticks went viral after being shared on social media. Many netizens praised Yang's behavior and urged smokers to properly dispose of cigarette butts to protect the environment.
Yang, 17, told reporters that he was surprised by all the attention and that he felt obligated to keep his hometown clean. He also revealed that he and three other classmates — Li Chih-chi (李知器), Chen Chun-che (陳俊哲), and Lin Tung-yun (林彤芸) — are planning to hold a street cleaning event on April 24 in West Central District.
The students said they did not realize how bad cigarette littering in Taiwan was until they had collected 200 butts in less than 20 minutes. They hope to recruit about 150 fellow high school students to join them on the day of the street cleaning.
Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) on Monday (April 19) presented thank-you notes to the four students. Emphasizing that cigarette butts are hazardous to the environment, he said the Tainan's Environmental Protection Bureau will assist them in carrying out their mission on April 24 by sending cleaners to all 37 districts in the city.
Contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable and can release nicotine and heavy metals into the environment. According to data from the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration, approximately 34.2 billion cigarettes are consumed in Taiwan every year, and an estimated one-third of them are tossed onto the streets.
Yang Tzu-chen picking cigarette butts up off drain cover went viral on internet. (Facebook, Wu Sheng-hung photo)