Get the facts about cigarette butts.
- They cost Washington taxpayers. San Francisco spends $7.5 million USD in cigarette cleanup costs and lost revenue- what the City of Seattle spends is unknown.Using the $.15 per pack tax, WA Dept of Ecology spends $4 million/year picking up litter along highways.
- They cost Washington businesses. The presence of litter not only decreases property values and attractiveness, the Seattle Chapter found that it can burden businesses whose employees have to sweep mounds of butts from doorways while on the clock.
- They are themost littered item in the world and in Washington. An estimated 5 trillion are discarded each year, and they make up32% of all litter in outdoor recreation areas. They are also the most littered item on Washington beaches, confirmed every year at the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup.
- They break down into micro plastics in the ocean- they’re not a paper product, though they’re designed to look like one. Filters are made of cellulose acetate- a plastic, synthetic fiber, and there is no evidence they biodegrade.
- They harm and kill our fish and birds. Cigarette butt filters are toxic waste and proven harmful. When wet, butts leach out toxins which are proven to be lethal to fish.Birds take the filters to line their nests, harming their young.
*Print out the facts above here: Cig Litter Fact Sheet
*See more research: Schippers, Nick.2015.AnnotatedBibliographyonCigaretteLitter
The Hold On To Your Butts (HOTYB) program in Seattle
In early 2014, the Seattle Chapter launched the Hold On To Your Butts Program (HOTYB), which is a national campaign that has been met with significant success in San Diego and Huntingon Beach. Through beach cleanups, the Seattle Surfrider chapter has witnessed that the city has a serious problem of cigarette filters littering public areas, especially beaches and city parks. Though it is illegal to smoke at beaches and parks in Seattle, and within 25 feet of public places like bus stops and doorways (per WA state 70.160.0175 RCW) butts are a significant problem particularly in these areas.
The Seattle chapter is focused on 1) educating people about cigarette impacts and 2) providing smokers an opportunity to dispose of cigarette butts responsibly. The chapter collaborated with Seattle Parks and Recreation to install two ashcans at Alki Beach Park in August, 2014 and added 6 more in July 2015. The chapter donated 12 cans to West Seattle Junction Association in July 2015 for use in the Junction restaurant and shopping district. Three UW interns have contributed 300 hours of service combined in 2015 and spoken with hundreds of park and event patrons about HOTYB. Chapter volunteers completed a Walk of Shame to draw social media presence to litter at popular bars in Capitol Hill.
5.29.15 Seattle Parks and Recreation ‘Seattle Parks and Recreation opts for smoke-free parks’
4.22.15 Real Change ‘People split over the parks smoking ban’
4.22.15 Capitol Hill Seattle Blog ‘Earth Day 2015: 2,000 butts an hour on Capitol Hill’
4.22.15 West Seattle Blog ‘Earth Day scenes’
4.22.15 King 5 ‘Micro-trash cleanup along Alki Beach’
8.23.14 West Seattle Blog ‘Imagine a Buttless Beach’
8.21.14 West Seattle Blog ‘Hold On To Your Butt’ Surfrider campaign Saturday
Why choose Surfrider cigarette receptacles?
You can find other cigarette receptacles for cheaper, but you won’t find one like ours. Ours were specially designed by the manufacturer and Don and Tony at the Huntington Beach Surfrider Chapter. Check out the benefits of using Surfrider’s cans:
- the attractive vinyl sticker helps create uniformity, making receptacles easy to spot from far away, which increases likelihood of use
- the openings are small enough to keep other litter out
- the grooves draw rainwater away from the openings
- the locking mechanism keeps out passerbys looking for a butt, doesn’t spill or tip over, and are easy to empty into a garbage
- metal canisters are less of a fire hazard and have proven they can handle the weather on California beaches for several years
- they can be secured to a wall or post to reduce stealing
Current cigarette canister locations and responsible parties
- Alki Beach Park- 6 cans – South Seattle Parks Maintenance is responsible
- The Junction- 12 cans- the WS Junction Association is responsible
- Post Alley- 1 can- Ewing & Clark is responsible
- [3 other locations pending]
- South Park Community Centre- 1 can- staff on site is responsible
- [5 other locations TBD]
Our next steps
We are actively working to find partners (local businesses owners, business associations, government departments, etc.) in high litter areas to install ashcans to reduce litter as well as promote education of cigarette litter impacts on the environment. We are looking for local businesses, especially near parks and beaches, to sponsor ash cans and partner with us to keep these toxic butts out of our waters. Check out this success story from the Vancouver Island Chapter on their highly successful HOTYB program to get inspired!
Opportunities for you to join the effort
Love to talk? We need enthusiastic outreach volunteers to hand out educational flyers and engage the public, contact us!
Own a restaurant or apartment building? Purchase a canister from us for public and patron use, install it and see the litter decrease. Post or set out our educational flyers to spread the stoke to your patrons.
Love recycling? Start a Cigarette Waste Brigade and send cigarette butts to Terra Cycle for recycling and earn donations for your favorite charity.
Artistically talented? Gather up some butts and make something creative that we can use while we do outreach to the public.
Run community events? Plan for smokers- it happens whether you want it to or not, so provide a receptacle and use your event as a platform to ask the public to Hold On To Your Butts.
Citizen scientist? Do a “street sweep” in your neighborhood. You can count butts per block, per hour, and per person, and then show off your garbage to your neighborhood association.
To get involved or request information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you re-publish content on this website, credit Barbara Clabots. Seattle Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. 2015.