Aquatic Park Stewards: Marine Debris & Bay Ecosystem Conservation

The Aquatic Park Stewards program with Shark Stewards is helping lead the Bay marine debris prevention effort through clean-ups and quantifying marine debris at Aquatic Park, San Francisco.  Cleanups are the second Sunday of each month at Aquatic Park. These cleanups typically take about one to two hours and are fun team building events giving back to our community.

Schools, company groups welcome! Contact for information

Meet outside the Dolphin Club, west end. Join us cleaning and supporting Aquatic Park National Marine Heritage Area.  Volunteer now!

We are working with local youth learning ecosystem science and cleaning up the beach.  Our youth film Hang Onto Your Butts wins the youth competition for middle schools at the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival.

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.

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 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 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.

Become a Corporate Sponsor- Sponsor an Cleanup 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.
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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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