The Delaware Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and Plastic Free Delaware are joining forces this summer to raise awareness of the environmental dangers of cigarette butts and to mitigate cigarette litter at the Department’s Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island State Parks. of National Resources and Delaware Environmental Control. .
“To help conserve and restore Delaware’s fragile ecosystem, we intend to reduce cigarette waste by raising awareness of the environmental dangers of discarding cigarette butts and encouraging smokers to dispose of their waste properly. of cigarettes,” said Brian Moran, president of Surfrider Delaware.
Recently, the Keep Delaware Beautiful campaign provided Delaware state parks with cigarette butt receptacles that support the Carry In, Carry Out Parks Policy and the Keep DE Litter Free initiative launched by Governor John Carney in 2019.
“There really is no excuse for littering, but cigarette butts and other trash continue to be found all over Delaware, including on our beautiful beaches,” said Ray Bivens, director of the DNREC Parks and Recreation Division. “We are grateful to the Surfrider Foundation and Plastic Free Delaware for helping spread the Keep DE Litter Free message and raising awareness of the impact litter has on our environment.”
“A lot of people think filters are cotton and will break down if left in the environment,” said Dee Durham, president of Plastic Free Delaware. “In fact, they’re made of plastic — plasticized cellulose acetate — that doesn’t biodegrade or compost.”
Cigarette butts have been breaking down into smaller pieces over the past 10 years, but they’ve never really gone away. They also release chemicals that pollute waterways and pose a significant risk to birds and other wildlife, which may accidentally swallow them. Plasticized cellulose acetate is also combustible; it may not start a fire, but discarded cigarette butts could intensify an existing one and pose a threat to anyone walking barefoot on area beaches.
To help park visitors properly dispose of cigarette waste, newly installed receptacles by DNREC have been placed at key locations in the beach parks. Volunteers from partner organizations will distribute educational brochures and free personal pocket ashtrays on select weekends to park visitors; these items are also available at several locations in Sussex county.
The Surfrider Foundation Delaware Chapter and Plastic Free Delaware share a mission to prevent plastic pollution from entering the ocean and harming wildlife by stopping it at the source.
To find out more, visit delaware.surfrider.org.