Environmental Education & Health through Youth and Community Engagement
Our Aquatic Park Stewards youth volunteer program has been awarded the prestigious George Jr. & Helen Hartzog National Awards for Outstanding Service by the National Parks Service at the Western Regional and National levels!
The Aquatic Park Stewards program is an ongoing volunteer program educating youth on Bay ecosystems and species, and collecting data in a long-term study of terrestrial and marine sources while engaging the public to support the San Francisco Maritime Historical Park.
Concurrently, we are helping lead the San Francisco Bay marine debris prevention effort through clean-ups and quantifying marine debris using the NOAA Shoreline Monitoring Field Guide and Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Methodology, as part of the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project.
This citizen science and youth education program is collecting marine debris using NOAA methodology and recording categories, recycling and raising awareness about the impacts of cigarettes on humans and environmental health.
We are working with underserved youth in San Francisco public schools learning ecosystem science and cleaning up our National Park. Youth and citizen scientists record data and are mapping and identifying species in Aquatic Park Cove with iNaturalist with the California Academy of Sciences. We also train citizen-scientists to conduct Bio Blitzes in the Park with the community to observe and record species data in the Cove and nearshore.
Community cleanups are the second Sunday of each month at San Francisco Aquatic Park.
We meet outside the Dolphin Club, west end 0900 AM-11:00 AM. Join us cleaning and supporting the Maritime Heritage National Historical Park. Volunteer now!
These cleanups typically take about one- two hours and are fun team building events giving back to our community.
Our youth film Hang Onto Your Butts wins the youth competition for middle schools at the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival..
With our partners* our aim is to reduce plastic pollution in the Bay Tributaries, San Francisco Bay and adjacent beaches through direct action, education and policy. This campaign aims to raise awareness about the environmental impact of cigarette butt litter on our oceans, waves and beaches, and to help eliminate cigarette butt litter in San Francisco County and beyond to the Bay and Pacific Ocean. Commonly littered on our sidewalks and streets, butts end up in our storm drains, flowing to our streams, rivers, bays, lagoons and ultimately the ocean. Sign Up Here
This pilot project will help reduce butt waste in the marine environment, collect data and suggest solutions to mitigate plastic pollution and other marine debris at the source.
Clean up materials and program support by Lagunitas Brewery and West Marine.
Donate $10 to support the Healthy Bay Program to fund gloves, tools and clean up materials. A $100 donation adopts a butt urn to directly solve this problem
- Hang On to Your Butts: The Need
- Cigarette butts account for approximately one in every three items collected during our beach cleanups.
- Cigarette butts are non degradable materials that concentrate toxins.
- These plastics, carcinogens and other toxins are killing marine wildlife from sharks to seabirds.
- 3 Billion cigarette butts are discarded in San Francisco each year
- Caltrans spends $41 million a year just cleaning up discarded butts, and the tiny City and County of San Francisco spends $6 million a year on the same task in its 49 square miles.
Hang Onto Your Butts: The Solution
- Surfrider has installed approximately 150 ashcans in San Diego County, with a 65% reduction in butts where ashcans were installed.
- The County of San Mateo has conducted a study indicating marketing and butt urns are effective in reducing butt waste by over 50%.
- Following the lead of 30 Southern California Beaches, we will reduce this impact on our beaches, waterways and marine wildlife.
- Starting at Aquatic Park with the National Parks Service, this initiative aims to spread along the City shorelines and along Ocean Beach.
We can staunch the flow and cigarette butts are recyclable! These weather and tamper resistant butt urns are effective in reducing toxic litter.
Stainless Steel Butt Urn
(Example of urn, Dimensions 73″ x 3.5″) Businesses – Sponsor an Urn for $300 with your name and recognition- Donate Here.
The Environmental Impact of Cigarette Butts:
- An estimated 4.95 trillion cigarette butts are disposed of in our environment annually worldwide.
- Cigarette butts leach toxins when wet, like Cadmium, Lead, Arsenic and organic carcinogens posing a threat to marine life.
- Litter cleanup costs the U.S. over 11 billion annually, cigarette butts represent an estimated 32% of that litter.
- Cigarette butts are composed of cellulose acetate, a non-biodegradable plastic, which can take up to 25 years to decompose.
- More than 1.03 million cigarette butts were removed from American beaches in 2011 as part of the annual international coastal cleanup by the Ocean Conservancy, making it the most commonly littered item and representing 28 percent of all debris collected.
- Littered cigarette butts pose a significant fire threat.
Objectives of Program:
- Installing outdoor ashcans near beaches and waterways leading to the Bay and Ocean throughout the County, with a 50% reduction in cigarette butt litter aimed in target locations
- Sharing areas of high butt abuse on social media, identifying businesses on Instagram and working to reduce the flow of butts to streets and drains
- Distributing pocket ashtrays to smokers
- Raising community awareness through events such as an annual Hold On To Your Butt Day, and public events
- Advocating for stronger law enforcement of litter laws
- Implementing a city, county and state beach ordinances to ban smoking on the beach or 100 yards from shore.
Sources: Keep America Beautiful Campaign, Surfrider Foundation, San Francisco Dept. of Environment.
|News | Related Research|
|Krause, M.J.; Townsend, T.G., “Hazardous waste status of discarded electronic cigarettes,” Waste Management [Epub ahead of print], March 4, 2015.|
|Bayer, R.; Bachynski, K.E., “Analysis and commentary: banning smoking in parks and on beaches: science, policy, and the politics of denormalization,” Health Affairs 32(7): 1291-1298, July 2013.|
|Lee, J.G.L.; Ranney, L.M.; Goldstein, A.O., “Cigarette butts near building entrances: what is the impact of smoke-free college campus policies?,”Tobacco Control 22(2): 107-112, March 2013.|
|Patel, V.; Thomson, G.W.; Wilson, N., “Cigarette butt littering in city streets: a new methodology for studying and results,” Tobacco Control22(1): 59-62, January 1, 2013.|
|Johns, M.; Coady, M.H.; Chan, C.A.; Farley, S.M.; Kansagra, S.M., “Evaluating New York City’s smoke-free parks and beaches law: a critical multiplist approach to assessing behavioral impact,” American Journal of Community Psychology [Epub ahead print], May 26, 2012.|
|Seitz, C.M.; Strack, R.W.; Orsini, M.M.; Rosario, C.; Haugh, C.; Rice, R.; Wyrick, D.L.; Wagner, L., “Quantifying littered cigarette butts to measure effectiveness of smoking bans to building perimeters,” Journal of American College Health 60(4): 331-334, February 29, 2012.|
|Ariza, E.; Leatherman, S.P., “No-smoking policies and their outcomes on U.S. beaches,” Journal of Coastal Research 28(1A Supplement): 143–147, 2012.|
|[n.a.], “Tracking trash: 25 years of action for the ocean — 2011 report,” Ocean Conservancy, 2011.|
|Healton, C.G.; Cummings, K.M.; O’Connor, R.J., “Butt really? The environmental impact of cigarettes,” Tobacco Control 20(Suppl 1): i1, April 21, 2011.|
|Smith, E.A.; Novotny, T.E., “Whose butt is it? tobacco industry research about smokers and cigarette butt waste,” Tobacco Control 20(Suppl 1):i2-i9, April 2011.|
|Harris, B., “The intractable cigarette ‘filter problem’,” Tobacco Control20(Suppl 1):i10-i16, April 2011.|
|Novotny, T.E.; Hardin, S.N.; Hovda, L.R.; Novotny, D.J.; McLean, M.K.; Khan, S., “Tobacco and cigarette butt consumption in humans and animals,” Tobacco Control 2011(Suppl 1): i17-i20, April 2011.|
|Sawdey, M.; Lindsay, R.P.; Novotny, T.E., “Smoke-free college campuses: no ifs, ands or toxic butts,” Tobacco Control 20(Suppl 1): i21-i24, April 2011.|
|Slaughter, E.; Gersberg, R.M.; Watanabe, K.; Rudolph, J.; Stransky, C.; Novotny, T.E., “Toxicity of cigarette butts, and their chemical components, to marine and freshwater fish,” Tobacco Control 20(Suppl 1): i25-i29, April 2011.|
|Moerman, J.W.; Potts, G.E., “Analysis of metals leached from smoked cigarette litter,” Tobacco Control 20(Suppl 1): i30 – i35, April 2011.|
|Schneider, J.E.; Peterson, N.A.; Kiss, N.; Ebeid, O.; Doyle, A.S., “Tobacco litter costs and public policy: a framework and methodology for considering the use of fees to offset abatement costs,” Tobacco Control20(Suppl 1): i36-i41, April 2011.|
|Marah, M.; Novotny, T.E., “Geographic patterns of cigarette butt waste in the urban environment,” Tobacco Control 20 (Suppl 1): i42-i44, April 21, 2011.|
|Barnes, R.L., “Regulating the disposal of cigarette butts as toxic hazardous waste,” Tobacco Control 20 (Suppl1): i45-i48, 2011.|
|Novotny, T.E.; Lum, K.; Smith, E.; Wang, V.; Barnes, R., “Cigarettes butts and the case for an environmental policy on hazardous cigarette waste,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 6(5): 1691-1705, May 2009.|
|Ariza, E.; Jimenez, J.A.; Sarda, R., “Seasonal evolution of beach waste and litter during the bathing season on the Catalan coast,” Waste Management 28(12): 2604-2613, December 2008.|
|Santosa, I.R.; Friedricha, A.C.; Wallner-Kersanachb, M., “Influence of socio-economic characteristics of beach users on litter generation,”Ocean & Coastal Management 48(9&10): 742-752, October 25, 2005.|
|Centers for Disease Control, “Ingestion of cigarettes and cigarette butts by children – Rhode Island, January 1994-July 1996,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 277(10):785-786, 1997.|
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Shark Stewards is a non-profit project of the Earth Island Institute.