Words and Photos by Renee Hansen / Senior Staff Writer
Several trash receptacles decorate the corners and sidewalks along Fry Street, many of them sporting a poster that warns: “Don’t be a litter monster.”
The only thing that outnumbers these trash outlets are the cigarette butts that spot the pavement in between each one.
Keep Denton Beautiful, a non-profit organization, is behind these receptacles in the hopes to fight against litter and maintain Denton as a clean and beautiful city. The group has recently set their sights on Fry Street, a local hub for locals and visitors alike, that has been overrun with the ashy, mustard-yellow paper trash.
“We want people to understand cigarette butts are litter,” said Jannibah Coleman, Keep Denton Beautiful’s outreach coordinator. “Whatever their reason is, cigarette butts are the number one littered item, period.”
Coleman said this has been a mission in the making since 2006 when the non-profit was given a grant to target the specific area. However, Coleman said it has been an on-again, off-again scenario until recently when the City of Denton City Council recognized Keep Denton Beautiful’s efforts with a Mayoral Proclamation on July 16, 2013.
Councilman Dalton Gregory was supportive of the decision to back the mission by the non-profit.
“What would be great is if people would just think before they toss their cigarette butts and think about the fact that they don’t disappear by themselves.”
“We have lots of visitors to this town, and you know, you only have once chance to make a good first impression,” Gregory said. “And a clean city makes a much better first impression.”
Coleman said she is grateful to have the chance to work so closely with the city, and its cooperation with recognizing the grant and providing other resources for the non-profit has helped the efforts of keeping Denton’s streets clean.
Although the grant was officially recognized just last week, Coleman said the work has already begun. The ash receptacles have already been rolled out and Keep Denton Beautiful is pushing the new campaign that will encourage people to utilize those outlets, complete with the litter monster cartoon.
Smokers and non-smokers alike have recognized the problem, even on streets aside from Fry. One student, Storm Speller, prefers to smoke across the street from the art building, a place that accumulates a lot of trash, he said.
“I clean up after myself but I see it a lot and I understand it’s a problem,” Speller said as he adjusted the cigar in his mouth.
While Fry Street is a targeted point of concern right now, Coleman reflected back to the ultimate goal for the non-profit which is to inspire individuals to take responsibility for their city as a whole and to keep it beautiful.
Another student, Peter Wagner, who doesn’t smoke, supports the cause but also looks at the bigger picture.
“I mean, there’s still going to be kids smoking on campus throwing them everywhere,” he said. “Some people just want to see the world burn.”
For citizens in favor cleaning up Denton, there is hope on the horizon as Keep Denton Beautiful and their volunteer supporters offer their time throughout the year to pick up trash around Denton. In addition, Coleman also said that there are several individuals who have adopted a spot in Denton which requires them to pick up litter in that area six times each year.
As for Coleman, her wish is simple.
“Please keep the city clean,” Coleman said. “Please keep my street clean.”