Harmful Effects of Cigarette Litter

By Rachel Grubbe

Cigarette litter is a HUGE problem. But, how can that be?... Cigarette butts are so small. Cigarettes are the number one most littered item in the world! Cigarette litter makes up 38 percent of all collected litter. So, what’s up with that? Why are so many smokers tossing their cigarette butts on the ground?

Keep America Beautiful reports that 77 percent of people don’t even consider cigarettes on the ground to be litter! Cigarette litter is so common it almost seems that they are part of the natural environment. But, we are here to tell you that cigarettes on the ground  are, without a doubt, litter.

So what will happen if I throw a cigarette butt on the ground? Short answer, nothing. Seriously, nothing will happen to it, it will never biodegrade. Although, cigarette butts appear to be made of cotton, they are actually made of plastic fibers. Organic decomposers have no ability to breakdown plastic. So, those little cigarette filters will hang around for the rest of the earth’s existence.


The most important fact to remember about litter is that it will not stay where you put it. Cigarettes contain toxic waste, and once that waste is introduced to the environment, it will contaminate the water. Runoff carries litter from the streets, to the storm drains, to our lakes and rivers. The substances that leach out are causing damage to plants and animals, harming the delicate ecosystem we rely on for life.

Throwing cigarettes on the ground is dangerous. If a cigarette is not put out then tossed away it becomes a fire hazard. Approximately 90,000 fires are started by cigarettes each year. Almost every roadside fire is caused by cigarette litter. Smoky the Bear does not approve.


So, lets think about it. Cigarettes on the ground are harmful, dangerous, and ugly. That’s litter! We have all seen it; driving down the road and someone flings a cigarette out the window. It drives us at KBB crazy!

At Keep Blount Beautiful, we have both car and pocket ashtrays for you to use to prevent cigarette litter. Just let us know if you would like one!

Why Do People Volunteer?

By Brittney Whipple


Like most nonprofit organizations, Keep Blount Beautiful (KBB) relies on volunteers to achieve its mission. Although volunteering is often seen as all giving and no getting, we know that is not true; When volunteering your time to an organization you will always get something in return. There are many different reasons why people volunteer, and they all get the work done.

To give back to their community

Volunteering your time is an excellent way to connect with your community. Here in Blount County, we have many organizations that work towards many different causes, and they all need volunteers. If you or any of your family/friends have benefited from an organization’s efforts or appreciate what they do, volunteering may be your chance to give back!

To support a mission they truly believe in

When people learn about an organization with a mission that aligns with their personal values, it makes them want to be a part of the action. Often times, monetary donations are not possible for many people, so they choose to give their time instead. The good news is, donating time rather than money is just as valuable, if not more.

Do you believe in a clean, green, and beautiful Blount County? Volunteering with KBB is a great way to take action and show your support!

To develop new skills and gain experience

Volunteering could be the perfect chance to develop a new skill, learn more about a new topic, and gain experience serving the community.

Volunteering will give you a whole new perspective on the world around you. For instance, volunteers that participate in our litter pickup events are often shocked at some of the things they find littering our community and realize it is a real problem.

Volunteers can feel free to ask KBB staff about topics such as litter or waste reduction at our events, as we love sharing information with the community. At KBB, our goals are not to only clean up an area in Blount County or provide recycling opportunities, but to open our volunteers’ eyes and encourage them to share what they have learned with others.

Don’t be humble! Significant time spent volunteering keeps your resume fresh and looks impressive to potential employers. Employers like to meet candidates that have connections with different organizations and have gained hands-on, real world experience.

To meet new people or bond with family and friends
Volunteering is a great way to meet other people with similar interests as you. When like-minded individuals come together, they will achieve a goal as a team and develop relationships.

Volunteering is also a great bonding activity for your family and friends- and it’s free! We love seeing families and children at our events because it means younger residents are being educated on environmental topics and the importance of volunteering.

To keep busy

Volunteering is a great use of your free time, especially when you are trying to become more active in the community.  If you are not able to make an event but still want to use your free time volunteering with us, we can help you organize your own cleanup and lend you supplies- just ask!

To earn community service hours

There is nothing wrong with this! The need to earn community service hours gives you the opportunity to find and learn about organizations in your area that align with things you care about. Who knows, maybe you will learn something new, meet a friend, gain a new skill or interest, and have a good time!

If you would like information on volunteering with KBB, you can view the upcoming events and programs listed on our website. You can also contact our office at 865-681-4809 or keepblount@gmail.com.

You can also stay up to date by following us on our Facebook page and by signing up for our E-Newsletter.

Aluminum Recycling: Benefits and Challenges

By Rachel Grubbe

Every year a whopping 200 billion aluminum cans are produced for beer and soda, which is about 6,700 cans per second. But, only around half of all aluminum cans in American are recycled. United States aluminum recycling hardly even compares with other countries. Both Japan and Brazil recover over 80 percent of all aluminum produced. The aluminum cans that do not get recycled are just waste. The oceans are already filled with pollutants, and landfills are quickly reaching capacity.

We can do better!

Aluminum is an incredible material for beverage packaging. It is significantly lighter than glass, so shipping aluminum cans is more energy efficient. In fact, aluminum is considered the most efficient packaging material for shipping. And, aluminum recycling saves 95 percent of energy used to create new cans! Aluminum cans are also 100 percent recyclable, and can be returned to the shelf in only 60 days!

Aluminum recycling.png

Alcoa was been involved in aluminum recycling since the 1960’s and is always trying to be more sustainable. Last year Alcoa recycled 382,000 metric tons of scrap, and reduced energy usage by 5.7 percent. Alcoa also operates with 75 percent renewable energy!


But, Alcoa isn’t immune to sustainability related challenges.

The demand for aluminum is up 5 percent from last year. It is challenging for a companies to remain sustainable when consumer demand is so high. The industry needs to expend more resources to meet the high levels of demand. Increased production means increased energy usage, as well as waste creation. According to the 2017 Sustainability report, Alcoa is currently equip to manage the increase in demand, but still considers this a challenge the company will face now and in years to come.

Challenge yourself, this month can you recycle every aluminum can you use?

3 Interesting Facts about Solar Energy that You Didn't Already Know

By Rachel Grubbe

What's the deal with solar energy? Let me shine a little light on the subject. Solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. There are various was to harness solar power, so we can use it to provide power to our homes, cars, and work places. 

Solar Energy is the Cleanest form of Energy

Unlike fossil fuels harvesting and using solar energy does not create pollution. Harvesting fossil fuels really takes a toll on our planet; damaging wildlife habitats, polluting the water and the air, and increases the rate of global warming.  Solar energy is gathered from the sun’s rays, not from mining or drilling. And solar energy does not need to be burned to create energy, so there is no pollution being emitted to the air.

There are Multiple Ways to Harness Solar Energy

The ever changing world of technology has given us some amazingly cool ways to use the sun's energy.

·       Solar Thermal Energy is the collection of energy from the sun’s heat. Thermal technology can be used to heat or cool buildings.

·       Photovoltaic Cells allow sunlight to be directly converted into power; Electric road signs often use this technology. A solar panel is position on top of or near the sign to prove immediate power to the electric road sign.

·       Passive Solar Energy is the direct use of the sun’s energy for warmth. During the winter, drawing the curtains back allows the sun to provide passive solar energy while you are away at work. It is a great way to save on heating cost.

The Largest Solar Park in the World is being built in Pavagada, India

            The current largest solar park in the world is located in California, the solar park being constructed in Pavagada is expected to be 14 times larger! The new solar park could bring clean energy to the millions of people who lack power in India. Currently India’s major source of power comes from coal. 58% coal, 10% wind and only 5% solar. India intends to have 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by the year 2022.

Solar energy is arguably the best way to power homes and businesses. There is an endless source of solar energy, and it does not cause harm to the earth to harvest it. So, why do we use anything else?

How to Deal with a Dump?

by Mallory Leonard

Anna Marie Montrony is the citizen who reported the illegal dump at Green Acres last week. She has lived in Blount County for two years, having moved here from Long Island. She is a hairdresser and cosmetologist by trade and currently works for U-haul. Anna Marie lives in one of the apartment complexes behind the flea market, and she’s been trying to get it taken care of since she moved in.

She has tried to engage various governmental departments but received no response. “I felt like nobody was doing anything about it. People were like ‘Yeah it bothers us but there’s not much we can do about it.’” Then last week she decided to call the news and Keep Blount Beautiful, both of whom came out to the dump almost immediately.

“I got to a point where I said ‘Something has to be done.’ It’s becoming a nuisance. There are flies and mosquitoes and possums and raccoons and everything. It just keeps getting larger and larger. The beds, the couches. People getting rid of metal and tires and everything they want to get rid of.”

Anna Marie witnesses people dumping every single day, mostly at night. “I care about my community. I care about the air quality. This is a beautiful area but it’s getting run down.”

When the wind blows across the dump, the stench goes right into Anna Marie’s home. She’s fed up with the dump, and so is Scott Hammer, the manager of the flea market.

He’s been dealing with the problem for years. He’s set up cameras to capture license plates, but dumpers often see them and knock them down. When he has caught people and informed the police, he’s been told that law enforcement can only make them leave the property.

On some occasions, dumpers have even gotten violent with Scott. “People have said to me, ‘I can do whatever I want,’ and when I say, ‘No, you can’t; this is private property,’ they lash out and threaten me.”

He knows that part of the garbage is coming from the many apartments behind Green Acres. Residents dump their household trash here, leaving evidence of their identity. “I’ve found bills with people’s names on them, and I’ve taken the bags back to them.”

KBB is trying to help fix this problem. Like most of the challenges we face, this dump may appear to be an isolated problem, but it’s a symptom of a cultural and educational issue.

Illegal Dump Site at Green Acres Flea Market

by Mallory Leonard

This morning KBB received a call from a concerned Louisville resident regarding dumping at Green Acres Flea Market. Sure enough, we went out there to investigate and a section of the property is being used as an illegal dump site. 

When we arrived on the scene, the caller, Anna Montroney, was there with Becca Habegger from WBIR. We gave a short interview about our work and the problem of irresponsible waste disposal in Blount County.

This is an example of why we do what we do at KBB. 

KBB informed the Blount County Offices of Environmental and Codes of this illegal dump by submitting a Citizen Complaint form (which can be found here). We intend to follow up in the coming weeks.


UPDATE: Conditions have improved on site. The rubbish has been cleared, and the manager is looking to re-purpose this space to prevent future dumping. A reporting system is now in place. KBB will serve as the uninterested third party and liaise between the property manager and the Sheriff's department.

These Kids Love to Pick Up Litter!

By Mallory Leonard

This morning, a group of young people from Maryville Vineyard is cleaning up Cusick Street! These wonderful volunteers belong to KidServe, a summer small-group in its second year. All summer long, they have been serving the local veteran, retired, and homeless communities in the area. All of their projects are described on their website

Their parents shared with us that these children really enjoy this volunteer day, the day they get to pick up litter. Those litter pickers certainly are empowering.

Keep Blount Beautiful is grateful for their service and proud to have KidServe among our volunteers. Thanks Maryville Vineyard KidServe!

Caring for Home

by Mallory Leonard

Blount County isn’t perfect, but luckily it’s home to lots of good people who want to make their hometown better and are willing to work to make that happen. Like Rosalind Robinson.

A few years ago, Rosalind spearheaded a project to clean up and beautify a section of Hall Road, between Edison and Howe. Before, this area was a huge mess, covered in massive amounts of litter and overgrown with weeds. After looking at such a depressing sight day after day, Rosalind decided to do something about it.

At first, she started cleaning the place up herself, with her own money and tools. Then, with the help of Charlene DeSha at Keep Blount Beautiful, Rosalind applied for and was awarded a Beautification Grant from Lowe’s.

Now this project could become a community effort. Although Rosalind may have started it all, she does not see this beautification project as “hers;” it has always been about the community.

The location has special significance for a number of reasons. For one, Rosalind remembers how many of the dads, including her own, would walk home every evening from Alcoa, and before splitting off to their individual homes, they would sit on the rocks and socialize together and unwind after a hard day’s work. Also, the site is adjacent to the building that, prior to integration, was the school designated for black students in the area. Rosalind remembers attending through the 9th grade and transferring to Alcoa High School for her last three years.

In addition to working with KBB, Rosalind assembled a team of workers and teamed up with the City of Alcoa to make this plot of land a sight worth seeing.

Rosalind was acutely aware of how many people drive down Hall Road every day, whether on the way to Knoxville or the mountains. So she and others have worked hard over the last few years to clean up and plant flowers and trees that will say something about this community to those passing through, but more importantly to those who live here.

To Rosalind, this effort is all about “caring for home.” She cares deeply about her home, the place and the people, and she knows she couldn’t have accomplished this much without the support of other people who care about home. Still, she knows they’ve got a ways to go yet...

Better Than the Creek

by Mallory Leonard

Blount County is a special place for many reasons, especially some that residents rarely think about. Take, for example, the landfill.

Sam Holloway, the Solid Waste Manager, oversees the operation of the Alcoa/Maryville/Blount County Sanitary Landfill, and he will proudly share with anyone who wants to know the services his team of 17 employees provides to this community.

This is one of the very few remaining landfills to be publicly owned, and it is owned jointly by the City of Alcoa, the City of Maryville, and Blount County governments. The three agreed long ago that the City of Alcoa would operate the landfill, so Sam and everyone who works there are employees of Alcoa.

The landfill is a self-sufficient operation; it does not receive funding from any taxes. Instead, the landfill functions solely on the tipping fees, which are currently $10.50 for up to 500 lbs and $42 per ton. The landfill receives around 350 tons of solid waste each day, 200 tons of municipal waste and 150 tons of construction/demolition. Yearly that income adds up to approximately $4 million, which effectively covers their operations, repairs, necessary purchases, and their many expensive fees and permits. They charge only the amount required to safely dispose of the solid waste brought in, so the system is truly “pay as you dump.”

Speaking of, let’s set the record straight. Many Blount County residents refer to this place as “the dump,” which is a grievous misrepresentation. A dump refers to a site where people simply toss their garbage. At a dump there is nothing to prevent the chemicals from all that trash from contaminating the groundwater.

Sam’s operation is a safe and strictly-regulated site for waste disposal. Leachate, or “trash tea” as Sam calls it, is properly collected, regularly tested, and sent to the water treatment plant. Methane is also collected onsite and processed to generate electricity. The A/M/BC Landfill is one of the smallest in the country to house an operation that can convert the gasses emitted by decomposing garbage into renewable energy.

At 260 acres, this landfill is quite a small one. In truth there are two landfills on the site: one for construction/demolition waste and one for municipal waste. Municipal waste is basically your household garbage, so those cells are the ones creating leachate (rainwater that percolates through the trash) and methane.

Sam works very hard to keep his landfill in good shape, and he thinks the residents of Blount County are very fortunate to have this service. He worked in solid waste management in two other Tennessee counties, Hamilton and Monroe, before taking the Manager job here, and he feels confident that Blount County’s option is superior. At the same time, he is fully aware of the problems with landfills, like how much waste we’re creating and how many trees and habitats are sacrificed because of it. But, he says, “as bad as landfills are, it’s better than the creek.”

The landfill also offers some recycling options, including cardboard, newspaper, plastic types 1 and 2, electronics, used oil, tires, scrap metal, and lead acid batteries. Residents do not have to pay the tipping fee for recycling.

Blount County’s landfill was opened in 1973 and has a life expectancy of approximately 50 more years. Even after it is full and completely capped, the site will have to be monitored for 30 years. The land will continue to settle indefinitely, so the space can never be used for buildings. Instead, the landfill may be converted into a park, and it would be the perfect place for one. After all, other than Foothills Parkway, the landfill boasts the highest point in Blount County with gorgeous panoramic views of the Smokies. The Blount County Model Aviators are already enjoying using a capped cell to fly their planes, and the kids on field trips enjoy having them there too.

The landfill is part of everyone’s life in Blount County, because everyone’s trash ends up there. For those who want to know what happens to their waste when it leaves their bins, the landfill offers free tours. To schedule one, call Sam Holloway at 995-2998 or Keep Blount Beautiful at 681-4809.