For Seaweek 2020, Our Seas Our Future is holding a series of clean-ups across the country targeting one of the most littered items in the world, cigarette butts.
The ongoing campaign, No Butts, aims to highlight the negative environmental effects of cigarette butts and encourage responsible butt disposal.
OSOF spokesperson Lesl van der Voorn says, “Cigarette butts are often overlooked as litter and that needs to change. Around 10% of cigarette butts are washed into waterways and eventually our oceans. In the ocean, cigarettes slowly break down into microplastics and leach toxic materials – posing a threat to our marine environment. These chemicals can be consumed by marine animals and sometimes eaten by us.
“We’re aiming to collect as many butts as we can to address cigarette butt waste and encourage others to think twice before ditching their butts on the ground,” she says.
In addition to the clean-ups, Miss van der Voorn embarked on a personal challenge to pick up cigarette butts for a week. Over a period of five days (averaging a clean-up time of 1.5 hours a day) she collected 5,000 amount of cigarette butts across various locations in Auckland.
Miss van der Voorn says, “Every day on my commute I see hundreds of cigarette butts lining our streets. It wasn’t until I made a conscious effort to pick them up that I realised how significant the issue is. It’s most disappointing finding them on beaches and near drains knowing very well they’re going to end up in the ocean.”
“I did get a lot of strange looks from people but others were interested and wanted to know why I was focusing on cigarettes butts or how they could help,” she says.
The cigarette butt clean-ups will be held in Dunedin, Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Hawke’s Bay. For more information about the campaign or to get involved in one of the clean-ups, please visit No Butts.