The Aquatic Park Stewards program is helping lead marine debris prevention through beach clean-up, quantifying marine debris, and wildlife and supporting our partners, the National Park Service. The school program brings underserved youth to the San Francisco appreciating and learning about marine ecosystems, threats and solutions. Join us cleaning and supporting Aquatic Park National Marine Heritage Area. Volunteer now!
Clean ups are every other Saturday at Aquatic Park. Join us on Save the Bay Day October 7! Meet outside the Dolphin Club, west end.
Corporate groups & Team building welcome! Sign up your company for community team building and give back.
Our student film Hang Onto Your Butts, won the first prize in the middle school competition at the International Ocean Film Festival, San Francisco! The kids of Francisco Middle School and other San Francisco City Schools have been helping clean, quantify and recycle marine debris and learn about wildlife and ecosystems since 2015 in our Shark Watch education program.
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.
Partnering with the National Parks Service we are taking a beachhead by cleaning up Aquatic Park Beach, conducting beach clean ups, quantifying plastic pollution, marine debris and keeping the cigarette butts. This pilot project will help reduce butt waste in the marine environment, collect data and create an education program.
These clean ups typically take about one hour and are fun team building events giving back to our community. Companies and corporate groups welcome!
Sign Up Here Supported in part by Keep America Beautiful.
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.
Working with the National Park Service on signage and installing butt receptacles we will help educate beach visitors and reduce cigarette butts discarded onto the sand, in drains and adjacent streets and walkways. Currently in planning phase, we are seeking funding to implement this program City-wide, while bringing San Francisco city youth from adjacent schools to help clean up, learn about marine ecosystems and our impacts, including cigarette butt waste. This pilot project will help reduce butt waste in the marine environment, collect data and create an education program.
Hold 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.
Hold On to Your Butts: The Solution
- Surfrider San Diego has installed approximately 150 ashcans in San Diego County, with a 65% reduction in butts where ashcans were installed. View the interactive map here.
- 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.
(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 clean up 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.
- 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 Pinterest 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.