Cigarette butts are gross and smelly, and once they're on the street, they don't go away. Until now.

We sent a team of volunteers to Union Square to see how many cigarette butts they could pick up in an hour. Here's what they found.

A new campaign from DoSomething.org and truth is seeking to put an end to a major smoking-related problem, without shaming smokers.

To do this, they're raising awareness about where cigarette butts do (and don't) end up when smokers are done smoking them.


FACT: Cigarette butts are the most frequently littered item.

Eww. Gross.

The new campaign is called, "Get the Filter Out" and it has a noble goal: to encourage people to pick up littered cigarette butts in their communities.

FACT: 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts end up as toxic trash every year.

That's kind of a lot. Too big to even wrap your head around.

FACT: Cigarette butts are NOT biodegradable.

When you throw your cigarette butt on the ground, it doesn't biodegrade and disappear. It just sits there. And sits there. And leaches harmful toxins into the ground. And then sits there some more. It never goes away.

Not unless someone picks it up and disposes of it properly.

To understand the scope of this problem, Upworthy brought a group of volunteers to Union Square in NYC.

The goal? To see how many cigarette butts we could pick up in an hour.

The result was a bit jarring. Literally.

They filled a huge jar with cigarette butts.

What's so cool about this campaign is that the goal is not to shame people out of smoking. There are plenty of other campaigns doing that. The "Get The Filter Out" campaign is all about raising awareness about the massive environmental problem of cigarette butts collecting on the ground as litter.

According to truth, 23% of teens smoked in 2000. As of 2014, only 8% of teens smoke. That's a huge decline in teenage smokers, but (perhaps more importantly for the environment) it's also a lot fewer cigarette butts being tossed out into the street.

So, really, I dare you.

Grab some gloves (seriously, make sure you have gloves) and a plastic resealable bag, and spend 10 minutes in your neighborhood collecting littered butts. The environment will thank you.

Check out what happened when we went to Union Square below:

Heroes