Monday, November 15, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 20

Guess what?!?!  Saturday we hit a milestone!!!  We went to Access 36 and did our twentieth 20 minute clean-up!!  As we walked up to onto the beach strand there were tikis set up and yellow rose petals everywhere... a beautiful day and even more beautiful place to get married!!

As we walked down the aisle of tikis, we quickly started noticing the butts in the sand.... a trail of butts always leads to more...
 Access 36 is our adopted beach access and we've done three 20 minute clean-ups there... it is our most visited access.  (Just to note, we've even been to Access 36 and have done clean-ups that we don't tally the butts or litter weight.)
The thing that makes Access 36 different from all the other accesses is the oceanfront restaurant "Oceanic."  It is the only oceanfront restaurant on Wrightsville Beach.  On Day 4, after we picked up way too much restaurant litter and took notice of an employee smoking area under the pier... I contacted Oceanic and got a phone call from the general manager.  After our conversation, I really thought that there would be some changes.  Unfortunately, not much has changed....

This is only one of a few break/smoking areas under and around the Oceanic Pier.  We took many pictures of the Oceanic employee break areas including one area that has a cigarette butt disposal receptacle.  We appreciate Oceanic doing the right thing and having a receptacle for their employees to dispose of their butts... BUT as I found 14 fresh cigarette butts around the above table (no receptacle) and my husband found 18 butts within a one foot radius of the receptacle and even more scattered around the areas... we realize that there is something wrong.  We are completely disappointed that Oceanic management isn't doing more about this problem... and taking extra responsibility to educate their employees about the problems of cigarette butt litter.  (Take special note of these cigarette butts... they are the start of an experiment)

True....Cigarette butt litter isn't the only problem at our beaches... 

but it is the biggest problem.  Cigarette butts may seem small (raindrops are small too) but with several TRILLION littered every year... the toxic chemicals that leach from those butts adds up!!!

How bad is the cigarette butt litter problem at Wrightsville Beach??  Bad enough that when I calculate all the butts we've picked up in 20 days...20 minutes at a time... we've picked up an average of 
436 butts per day 
TWENTY-TWO* butts PER MINUTE!!! (21.8175 for all you mathematicians ;) )

And I'm not alone in picking up litter and counting cigarette butts at Wrightsville Beach.  Ginger with the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project, my friend Sarah and her two young children, my friend Missy and her children and even my college friend Gabby have all gone out to Wrightsville Beach and counted the amount of cigarette butts they find.  Most recently my friend Julie and her two young children visited Wrightsville Beach and picked up 339 cigarette butts at Johnny Mercer's Pier (Access 16).  With the help of friends an additional 2,529 cigarette butts have been removed from Wrightsville Beach.  YAY!!  

20 minutes on November 13, 2010

Cigarette Butts: 443

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach in 20 days: