Bettystown leading the way in tackling smoking related litter
Bettystown has seen a decrease in smoking related litter following the installation of several cigarette bins in popular spots around the town according to Clean Coasts, an organisation that supports community initiatives in coastal towns.
Today marks World No Tobacco Day, a day in which the World Health Organisation highlight the harmful impact tobacco has on human health and our environment.
The seaside town has been leading the way in tackling smoking related litter with Bettystown Tidy Towns availing of the Clean Coasts grants scheme and promoting the campaign through social media.
Bettystown Tidy Towns is one of the groups working to create awareness locally about smoking related litter taking part in pilot projects including the installation of cigarette bins and informational stickers in key spots in their local area.
Kirsty MacKenzie, a member of Bettystown Tidy Towns commented: “Bettystown Tidy Towns made the decision to use the Clean Coasts grant to purchase cigarette butt bins after feedback from our volunteers. We regularly litter pick around the village and cigarette butts are one of the most commonly reported litter item that we find. There are several streams running through Bettystown and we are very conscious of trying to stop litter of all kinds from reaching the sea.
"We decided to install cigarette butt bins at specific points around the village where our volunteers have reported significant issues with cigarette litter. We are pleased to say that we have seen a reduction in cigarette litter in the village since the installation of the bins and we will continue to promote their use.”
On June 1st, Ireland’s bathing season starts, and Clean Coasts are launching a campaign asking people to dispose of their smoking related litter correctly to protect our environment and marine life.
In Ireland, cigarette butts are the most common item found on Ireland’s beaches and they account to for almost 50% of all discarded waste in the country according to Clean Coasts.
For the past several years, cigarette butts have been the top litter item found on Irish beaches during the Big Beach Clean, our end of bathing season call to action sponsored by Irish business Cully and Sully.
Cigarette butts and filters are often assumed to be biodegradable, but in fact, one cigarette butt might take over a decade to decompose. Cigarette filters are made of a plastic called cellulose acetate, which does not biodegrade and can remain in the environment for very long periods of time in the form of microplastics. Globally littered cigarette butts amount to an estimated 0.3 million tons of microfibers released per year.
When ingested, the hazardous chemicals in microplastics cause long-term mortality in marine life, including birds, fish, mammals, plants and reptiles.
According to research, just one cigarette butt per litre of water leaches enough toxins to kill half the freshwater or saltwater fish exposed to it.
In addition to cigarette butts, volunteers hosting clean-ups have noticed that incorrectly discarded vapes are also increasing. Vapes are made of materials such as plastic, rubber and metal that don’t break down naturally, and 1.3 million single-use vapes are thrown away every week.
Clean Coasts are inviting Clean Coasts groups and communities living in an area affected by the issue to get in touch if they would like to host a similar initiative on their local beach, by visiting their website at www.cleancoasts.org.