Every time there’s a big cleanup at Alki Beach, we hear about volunteers collecting pounds and pounds and pounds of cigarette butts. Even one is too many, says the Surfrider Foundation, which is trying something new this Saturday – an awareness campaign:
For the last several years, the Seattle Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has held numerous beach cleanups at some of the city’s most popular parks.
Even though smoking is banned on Seattle Parks beaches, play areas, and playgrounds, the cigarette filters continue to pile up at every beach cleanup and according to the Ocean Conservancy are the most common item picked up on beach cleanups around the world. A report from San Diego State University found that the toxins leaching from just one cigarette butt could kill a fish placed in a one liter bucket.
“A common misconception is that cigarette filters are biodegradable because they look like a paper product, but they are actually plastic and recyclable”, says Susan North, Surfrider volunteer. “The San Diego and Vancouver Island Surfrider chapters are already leading very successful Hold On To Your Butt campaigns which are cleaning up our beaches, cities, and streets.”
Their goal is to reduce local cigarette litter by educating smokers that butts are plastic and toxic to marine life. Surfrider believes it is important to empower smokers through education and also to provide smokers with ways to dispose of cigarette butts that are not a fire hazard. The chapter is working with Seattle Parks and Recreation by placing two ash cans at Alki Beach Park.
On Saturday, August 23rd, from 10 AM-1 PM at Alki Beach and in conjunction with the Alki Beach Volleyball tournament, Surfrider volunteers will hand out flyers and hold a beach sweep to draw attention to the amount of butts on our beaches. The campaign committee invites the public to attend and learn more about the initiative and find out how to sponsor an ash can.
P.S. Also on Alki this Saturday morning, the annual Great Cross-Sound Race, so heads up, it’ll be busy at the beach!