I talk a lot about #1 rankings, but this is not a very nice one: the #1 beach litter item.
As I’ve blogged about before, beach litter is an issue we take very seriously on the Isle of Palms, as well we should. Locals, visitors, animal and marine life alike all want and deserve a clean beach and ocean.
Even though garbage and recycling cans are located at all access paths on the IOP, there still remains a massive problem of beach litter and pollution.
Some concerned local citizens, led by such nice folks as Katrina Limbach, have organized regular beach cleanups on Monday evenings. IOP Cleanup Crew sweeps happen each week during the peak summer season, and once a month in the offseason.
Part of the IOP beach cleanups is a tally of what exactly people are leaving behind as beach litter.
The most common type of beach litter is…
Cigarette butts. They might seem small and rather inconspicuous, but they pack a lot of toxic dangers to the planet.
Check out the following, from Community Pride, Inc. of Charleston County:
Cigarette butts are the number one litter item picked up during clean ups.
The core of most cigarette filters, the part that looks like white cotton, is actually a form of plastic called cellulose acetate. By itself, cellulose acetate is very slow to degrade in our environment.
Depending on the conditions of the area the cigarette butt is discarded in, it can take 18 months to 10 years for a cigarette filter to decompose.
But that isn’t the worst of it.
Used cigarette filters are full of toxins, which can leach into the ground and waterways, damaging or killing living organisms that come into contact with them.
Toxin-filled cigarette butts work their way into our waterways primarily through storm drains that dump into streams and lakes. Studies conducted by Clean Virginia Waterways have shown that just ONE butt in approximately two gallons of water is lethal to water fleas, a tiny crustacean found in freshwater and saltwater. And those tiny bits of tobacco left attached to cigarette filters carry more toxins than the filters do themselves.
Please trash your butts!
If you do smoke, by all means please dispose of those well-extinguished butts properly, in the garbage, like beach access trash cans.
And if at all possible, for everyone’s sake – most of all your own – please quit smoking altogether.
By the way, due to the fact that cigarette butts are the #1 type of beach litter found on the Isle of Palms, the city is considering banning smoking altogether on the beach.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger