(Updated May 2018) Georgian Bay Forever is helping spread the message about getting beaches BUTT FREE. The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, (aka The Coastal Centre) has developed and executed an awareness program around the many ecological and recreational threats posed by cigarette butt litter. A local program expanded to include Wasaga Provincial Beach Area 5 in 2017 with support from the Environment Network, Environmental Defence, Georgian Bay Forever, and amazing volunteers Brian Nabuurs and Susan Watson. In 2018, volunteers Brian Nabuurs and Susan Watson are doing the major maintenance work on the program in Beach Area 5, with assistance in organizing and communicating by Georgian Bay Forever and the Park.
Cigarette butts are the most commonly littered item on our beaches. In Southwestern Ontario, littered cigarette butts can get carried in the stormwater and end up in the Great Lakes. When buried on the beach, they can stay in the sand for decades and may eventually wash into the lake. A cigarette butt is a used filter. Filters are designed to remove toxins from tobacco while the cigarette is smoked, so each butt can contain up to 165 chemicals. Sixty of these are known carcinogens such as arsenic, formaldehyde, chromium and lead. Research has shown that these chemicals will leach into the surrounding environment, particularly when wet - which is quite likely at the beach! Nicotine, a known insecticide, has been shown to have lethal effects on aquatic life. Butt Free Beach is a public education campaign to see if cigarette butt litter can be reduced through education and by providing ways for smokers to responsibly dispose of their cigarette butts. The focus will be on Wasaga Beach Area 5. Here is a little information on the program and what you can do:
Properly disposing your cigarette butts is easy.
At Wasaga Beach 5 (and other participating beaches ), find these tools that make it easier to dispose of your butts:1. Look for these ashtrays pictured below at participating beaches. 2. Empty the ashtray into this receptacle. These cigarette butts will be recycled by TerraCycle. * If you can't find these tools, the important thing to remember is not to leave your BUTTS on the beach. Or anywhere on the ground. Create your own receptacle out of items such as a coffee tin or pop can and then dispose properly afterwards. The beach is not an ashtray!
BUTT is there more I can do?Thanks for caring! Your beaches from Wasaga Beach to the world, need to be cigarette BUTT-FREE. Here are some ways you can help beaches:
98% of the information on cigratte butt litter and affects comes from Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation. For more information go to Butt Free Beach on their site.
For more information on beaches, ecologoy and stressors, go to Georgian Bay Forever's interview with Jenni Kaija, Assistant Ecologist at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.