Monday, August 11, 2014

No Butts About it... Cigarettes are Bad News for the River!

Keep Your Butts Out of the Lynnhaven!

How many times have you seen a curb, parking lot, or beach littered with cigarettes? Many people don't see cigarettes as pollution or trash. They believe that they are biodegradable, and will eventually disappear into the environment. However, even though cigarette filters, or "butts," may look like cotton, they are made of something called cellulose acetate, a type of plastic!  
On average, it takes anywhere from 18 months to 10 years for a cigarette filter to biodegrade, depending on environmentals. 
Environmental impact

In addition to plastic materials, cigarette filters release the toxic chemicals they are designed to collect from cigarette smoke into the environment.  These chemicals get washed into nearby waterways and can impact macroinvertebrate populations, which ultimately disrupt entire food webs.  These filters are also eaten by larger organisms like fish and birds that mistake them for food.  Additionally, littered cigarette filters can start wildfires and cause massive ecological and economic damage.   

What can we do to solve this problem?
The simple solution is to start disposing of these filters properly.  While there are less ashtrays around these days, smokers can use a pocket ashtray.  You can get yours FREE HERE

There are also some new cigarette filter repurposing programs out there.  The Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company collects cigarette filters, and other cigarette material from the public to make various plastic products like ashtrays and shipping pallets.  You can find out more about this and sign yourself up here.  Another new and exciting potential use for these filters was discovered recently by scientists in South Korea.  They have converted the filter plastic into a material to be used in various electronic devises. You can read about this research here.

There is still time to turn this problem around.  Become part of the solution--no butts about it!   

Written by Clint Boaz, Edited by Trista Imrich

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