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Keep your Butts off our Beach

Summer has arrived and all the beach-goers have probably seen them hiding in the sand with their butts ever so slightly peeking out -cigarette butts littering our shorelines. Most people are aware of the health risks associated with smoking cigarettes. However, they often forget the environment implications.

Many people believe because of their size, they are relatively harmless to the environment. On the contrary, they are tiny little pieces of litter, that when discarded  can enter our marine eco-systems, and damage our wildlife and water supply.

You see, cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded piece of waste on our beaches worldwide. It is estimated that 4.5 trillion butts are littered each year, that is approximately 1.69 billon pounds of cigarette butts that end up as toxic trash. Yikes!

Cigarette litter is not biodegradable. They are made of a type of plastic called cellulose acetate tow which can take years to decompose in the environment.

Not to mention, cigarette filters are designed to collect toxins during the smoking process. Therefore, each filter can potentially be compose of up to 60 known carcinogens such as arsenic, formaldehyde, chromium, lead and cadmium.

The impact on marine life is significant. The chemicals leak out of the butts once they enter the aquatic environment causing water pollution and threatening the marine life.

Birds, and aquatic animals often mistake the butts as food, swallowing harmful toxins and plastic. Serious digestive problems can arise leading to death. Cigarette butts have been found in the stomaches of fish, whales, sea turtles, birds and other marine creatures. Gross. I am sure you would not like finding a cigarette butt in your next meal, so I am guess the fish don't like it either.

The Bait Tank, is starting to pop up along different shore lines in California, Florida and North Carolina. It was created for the simple purpose of educating people and having a safe place to discard cigarette butts. Their motto: Save some fish. Feed me butts.

How can one person help to keep our beaches clean? Prevention-If you are smoker, dispose of your butts in responsible manner. Use personal ashtrays , or heat-resistant pouches made to hold cigarette butts safely.

Not a smoker. Educate. Educate Educate the dangers of smoking and the impact one single butt has on marine life and the environment! Apparently, the number one reason smokers litter, is that they are not aware of the environmental effects of their actions.

Picking-up trash along the shoreline can be a method to keep trash, such as cigarette butts out of harms way.

So the next time you see someone littering their butts, politely educate them on the topic or the next time you are having a cigarette think of the fish you could possibly save by butting out the right way.

Danielle Richardet, from It starts with me, has collected 23,918 cigarette butts in 79 days at Wrightsville Beach, NC. Take a few moments and follow her cigarette butt journey!

[youtube oYWBIx0I6Bk 560 349]

Sources: Californians Against WasteClean-Up the world and River Keepers

Reader Interactions


  1. Jennifer says

    Yuck! Just like Mrs. Marine, our neighbor smokes as well, and one time when we went on vacation, we came to find all her butts on our side of the fence! We knew they were hers because every single butt had her lipstick on it! Just wrong. On an up note, there was a story I once read about some woman who upcycles the fibers of the filter into clothing or something…? On another note, Is every comment I leave on your blog going to have, “I once read/watched something about…”? 😉

  2. Jill says

    I find this so annoying! It’s even more annoying when your toddler picks them up to show you! Gross!! Thank you for being my 200th follower 🙂 I am now following you as well!

    • Good Girl Gone Green says

      Last week, my husband and I where in Atlantic City and took 25 minutes and picked up trash along the beach. We collected many many cigarette butts! I guess your toddler is more aware of his surrounding then some adults….that is a good thing. But gross none the less!

  3. Simply Bug says

    This is a very cute blog. Wow I can’t believe they found underwear too! Very very nice video. I grew up near the coasts and it is amazing what you’ll find although I’ve never found underwear –

  4. lindy says

    Powerful video! Goes to show that change can start with just one person, or in this case, with just one family. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Laura says

    I hate it when my daughter steps on those butts at the beach. Yuck. Wish people would be more considerate. Thanks for the follow at Everything Beautiful – following back!

  6. Stephanie says

    Hi there – I followed you over from my site – thanks for the follow! I really like your site!
    And BOO to BUTTS on the beach!

  7. Lisa says

    Great post! I completely agree! There are always cigarette butts and even other little kinds of trash hidden in the beach sand. It’s gross and it’s bad for us and the environment.

    Your topic also brings up a question… Have you ever noticed how cigarette butts seem to be the one “acceptable” form of literring? If you drop a napkin, gum wrapper, etc. on the ground people would be appalled and many might even say something, but nobody thinks twice when it’s a cigarette butt. It’s pretty sad!


    • Good Girl Gone Green says

      I agree. We need to speak up and let people know it is not acceptable to litter cigarette butts. Hopefully it will eventrally become a norm to dispose of cigarette butts properly! Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

  8. Kristen Bobbitt says

    Great post! I often pick up litter when I am out & about but I never thought about picking up the butts also. I’ll definitely inform my friends when they try to toss their butts on the ground or in the lake.

    I’m a new follower from Stalk Hop Friday. I’m following via GFC, Twitter, Facebook & RSS. I love reading green posts!

    Please follow me back at http://babygiveawaysgalore.blogspot.com/


  9. Regina says

    I agree with you 100%. I used to organize stream cleanups in my area and you would be amazed the thing that people would throw into a creek or river! Everything from used tires to washing machines! Following back from the hop, great site.

  10. Good Girl Gone Green says

    People are allowed to smoke. It’s what they do with their cigarette butts that bothers me! And my daughter too is starting to put things in her mouth. I would hate for her to stumble upon a cigarette butt and munch on it…

  11. jen says

    smoking at the beach is one of my pet peeves! not only is finding butts disgusting but I HATE having to breathe that air and even more hate my daughter breathing it in!

  12. Nancy L. says

    Why do smokers have to smoke at the beach? I NEVER understood that one. You’re out in fresh air and they have to pollute it! I’m sooo lucky that I rarely see someone smoking! I just can’t tolerate it anymore.
    Great post!

    Have a great week!

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