The Surfrider Foundation is on the prowl! Sunday, April 19, volunteers from the Seattle Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation scoured up and down the blocks of Capitol Hill in search of cigarette litter. Unfortunately, the butts were not very difficult to find and after visiting less than 10 establishments in 3 blocks, the total was over 2,000 butts in one hour.

The main “hot spots” were the local bars. Performing the cleanup on a bright and sunny Sunday morning, volunteers were able to clearly see the dismal effects of a weekend full of customers stepping out for a smoke. Sadly, the disposal strategies were not quite environmentally friendly. Possibly from the lack of cigarette disposal cans around these bars, members of the Surfrider Foundation found cigarette butts in bushes, planters and even around trash receptacles. Of course there were some exceptional businesses. For example, Unicorn had a spotless street. The Unicorn’s no cigarette litter policy really made a difference. While the number of cigarette butts found around most bars averaged 300, Unicorn had a butt count of just 2.

Obviously, if people are encouraged to keep their butts off the streets, they do just that! Installing cigarette canisters in the “hot spots” of Capitol Hill will drastically reduce this number and keep our streets cleaner and healthier!

The differences between litter free streets and littered streets were drastic. Most obviously, the appearance of the sidewalks after being cleaned of cigarette butts looked much more vibrant and attractive. This makes the community look safer and increases appeal for recreational activities.

After picking up the cigarette butts volunteers also spoke to some members of the community. While some passerby’s happily cheered our efforts to clean the sidewalks, employees of the local bars gave some encouraging comments. Since businesses usually don’t prefer to have heaps of cigarette butts lying outside their establishments, many employees are charged with the task of sweeping the sidewalks. When Surfrider volunteers approached these workers, many were passionate about the Hold On To Your Butts program. They expressed how wasteful it was to spend time picking up litter when there was such a simply solution – putting up cigarette canisters. If we Seattleites don’t like sweeping cigarette butts, and we don’t want to see them polluting our community, supporting programs like Hold On To Your Butts is crucial. Check out the photo album of evidence and see if your favorite bar could use a can for their patrons.

If you know of any hot spots that could use some cigarette canisters, please let us know! Or, if you’re a local business that is tired of sweeping up cigarette butts, contact hotyb@seattle.surfrider.org to buy a canister, and start enjoying the true beauty of Seattle! #HoldOnToYourButts

By Chaewoo Ahn