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― Roger Zelazny

“The largest water cleanup in Nashville history

         is getting bigger all the time.”

Waste in our urban settings and waterways has a dramatic impact on the integrity of Middle Tennessee’s environment.


Cigarette butts, for example, threaten wildlife and aquatic animals that mistake them for food. The filters can block their digestive tract, and animals can become ill or starve. Cigarette butts also contain hazardous compounds such as cadmium, arsenic, lead and nicotine in the filters. Manufactured with plastics and petroleum (not cotton, like many believe), cigarette butts take up to 12 years to decompose.


Imagine now: Urban streets and storm drains contain millions of these butts, which flow directly into local waters after mild to heavy rains.


Here are more illustrations of the problem:


Decomposition Times

Plastic bottle/jug           1 million years

Styrofoam cup               1 million years

Disposable diaper                  550 years

Aluminum can                200-500 years

Tin can                                       90 years

Leather shoe                            45 years

Cigarette butt                           12 years

Wool socks                                  1 year

Paper bag                                1 month

The Nashville Clean Water Project is a proud offering of Water City USA.


We provide residents and corporations across Middle Tennessee a platform to demonstrate their environmental dedication and service commitments. We’re also an ideal service venue for CSR and corporate giving programs that seek to engage their workforce in ways that improve communities locally.


From a broad perspective, as Nashville waterways accumulate tons of human-imposed debris each season. Fertilizers, metals, plastics, foam products, cigarette butts and more all leach chemicals into our water and threaten the habitat for aquatic species and birds beyond Tennessee. Some of our trash flows all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and into the Dead Zone.


Our initial campaign in May 2008 was huge; the largest water cleanup project Nashville has ever seen! Together, we’ve inspired thousands to free Middle Tennessee’s waterways of bottles, cans,  cups, coolers, tires, and more. We produce one of the largest National Public Lands Day events in the country, and continue as the largest water cleanup in the Volunteer state.

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