Cigarette butts account for an estimated 1.69 billion pounds of trash each year – and a good number of them never even find their way into proper trash receptacles. Instead, many of them are ingested by aquatic creatures, wildlife, and pets, or simply left to languish in streets everywhere as litter. Sick and tired of seeing her town of Auburn, California marred by the toxic trash, resident Sally Dawly decided that she would make it her aim to pick up every stray butt she encountered — and she kept count. Incredibly, after 3.5 years, Dawly has collected over one million thoughtlessly discarded cigarette butts.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

“I got tired of going on my walks and seeing cigarette butts everywhere,” Dawly told her local news station. “I’m just overwhelmed and shocked that I had to pick up this many. I keep track on a daily basis of how many I pick up and I just keep going.”

Related: This startup is training crows to throw away cigarette butt litter

auburn butt lady of california counter, hand counter, butt ladt

To keep count, Dawly uses a clicker. In her tackle, she also carries a broom, a pair of tongs, and a dustpan, all of which are put to good use daily. “I’ve had days where I’ve picked up 3,000 butts, in one day,” she says, “and it’s like, come on people. Don’t throw your butts, better yet, stop smoking.”

The anti-littering activist picked up her first butt in October, 2014, and on Valentine’s Day, she hit her historic milestone of 1 million cigarette butts. But she has no plans on stopping there and has already set a new goal to collect 2 million cigarette butts.

Her story has also inspired countless others to join the effort to keep streets butt-free. In Auburn, cigarette receptacles have been installed outside bars and around the city, and locals consider her a bit of a local hero. As she approached 1 million butts, a number came out to cheer her on. They are also the ones who lovingly bestowed the name “Butt Lady” upon her.

Via Oddity Central

Lead image via Deposit Photos, others screencaps via CBS news