Bellam Self Storage and Boxes in San Rafael, Calif., has pledged $1,000 to a city beautification project that benefits the local chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the needy, including feeding the homeless. The city initiative was spearheaded by the San Rafael Clean Coalition and involves a public art piece called the “cigarette eater meter,” designed as a receptacle for cigarette butts. One cent will be donated to the charity for every cigarette butt collected.
In the first three months the 7-foot meter has stood in the city plaza, citizens and volunteers have deposited 50,000 cigarette butts. An anonymous donor has offered to match Bellam’s $1,000 pledge once the meter tally reaches 100,000.
"We just hit the halfway point, so we're really excited about the progress," said Carla Koop, coordinator for the city's volunteer program.
The discarded butts will be sent to TerraCycle, a New Jersey-based company that collects difficult-to-recycle products and repurposes them. The beautification program has drawn the attention of other municipalities and organizations, which have expressed interest in borrowing the meter to launch their own collection programs, Koop said.
Bellam Self Storage and Boxes is a Bay Area Certified Green Business through the Marin County green-business program, according to the company’s website. Among its green initiatives are efficient use of lighting, the installation of solar panels, environmentally friendly paint and insulation materials, low-flow toilets and sensor faucets, and a strict policy against the storing of hazardous materials.
The company is also dedicated to keeping the city clean. “As a business, we have decided to help keep San Rafael litter free,” according to Bellam’s website. “We regularly walk our block of Bellam Boulevard, Anderson, Simms Street, and pick up improperly discarded trash on the street, in bushes and in the alley. We have made every effort to enlist our business neighbors in this endeavor, a commitment to keep our block litter free.”