1. Where do littered cigarette butts come from-- storm drains, boaters, etc?
Having picked up and taken countless photos of littered cigarettes on Wrightsville Beach, I can attest to the fact that the majority of littered cigarette butts found on our local beaches have been stubbed out, flicked, tossed and left in the sand by beach-goers.
2. Littering laws are already in place. Do we really need another law?
Yes. Smoking needs to be banned on our local beaches. The cigarette litter problem on our local beaches is out of control. There are littering laws and there are signs in place, but those things aren't working to fix the problem. Whereas, other beaches that have banned smoking report a major reduction in cigarette butt litter. (Check out the sidebar to see the comparison between Santa Monica and Wrightsville Beach.) There are, obviously, other benefits to smoke-free beaches beyond cleaning up the beach, but my focus is cigarette litter.
3. Shouldn't we focus on something bigger, like plastics?
Plastics are a huge problem. 99% of litter we pick up on the beach is plastic and our oceans are becoming increasingly plasticized. No doubt that's something that needs to be tackled and some plastics definitely need to be banned-- like styrofoam and plastic bags. But, cigarette filters are also made from plastic and on top of that they contain toxic chemicals that leach into our environment as soon as they come in contact with water. 4.5 trillion little plastic cigarette filters are littered every single year making them the most littered item worldwide. Change has to start somewhere, so let's work on fixing that.
20 minutes on July 21, 2012 at Access 16Litter by weight: 4 lbs 10.5 oz
Cigarette butts: 197
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 150 days: