Turtle Island Restoration Network and Surfrider Foundation’s Galveston Chapter are working together to tackle an immense pollution problem in Galveston: cigarette butts.
Turtle Island Restoration Network and Surfrider Foundation’s Galveston Chapter are working to reduce the enormous number of discarded cigarette butts on the island’s beaches, streets, and sidewalks by installing at least 50 butt cans as part of the “Hold On To Your Butt” (HOTYB) program. The groups joined forces to expand the program thanks to a generous grant from Keep Galveston Beautiful. The program will collect the butt litter at a number of locations on the seawall, downtown, in parks, and on fishing piers throughout Galveston Island. The program will also launch a recycling program, create a public education and outreach program, and engage volunteers in citizen science — volunteers will collect data and send the butts to be recycled by TerraCycle.
Cigarette butt litter is the most common form of litter found in beach cleanups and the filters in the butts are made from plastic. This litter is unsightly and is dangerous to marine life; birds and fish accidentally ingest it thinking it is food and the hazardous chemicals from one butt contaminates two gallons of seawater, making it lethal to small marine life like crustaceans. Unfortunately, cigarette butts have become an almost socially acceptable form of litter. Galveston is an island, any litter that goes on the ground whether on the beaches, sidewalks downtown, or neighborhood streets will be washed into the storm drains when it rains, and eventually end up in the bay and ocean.
In 2017, TIRN initiated their Cigarette Butt-ler program by installing 18 cans at popular fishing piers on Galveston, Galveston Island Fishing Pier, 61st Street Pier and Seawolf Park, to help encourage community members to properly dispose of their butt litter. In 2020, Galveston Surfrider launched their HOTYB program to educate visitors and residents about the dangers of cigarette butt litter to the environment and to provide receptacles for the disposal of that litter. In just half of a year, HOTYB collected more than 5,000 butts from the first few cans installed in August 2020.
TIRN, Surfrider implore residents
to “Hold onto your butts”
Volunteers with the Turtle Island Restoration Network and Surfrider Foundation spent part of their Thursday morning (8/5/2021) installing new and/or refurbished cigarette butt holders along the Galveston Island Fishing Pier.