The State of Florida is a haven for travelers year round. Whether you are visiting tourist attractions for a few days or staying for several months, the warm weather and sunny skies will sooner or later draw you to one of our beautiful beaches on either coast. Before you run barefoot across that hot sun and dip your toes in the water, there is something you should know…Florida has a waste problem on its beaches.
This problem isn’t new, although it keeps getting buried in the sand, sort of. And the problem isn’t as bad as an oil spill or dumped sewage that makes national news. But it affects every Florida beach on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and it is growing in volume. It’s cigarette litter and it’s not just unique to Florida beaches.
Those cigarette butts casually tossed away or stubbed out in the sand are the most littered item in the world, according to cigarettelitter.org The biggest myth is that the filters are biodegradeable. Most smokers don’t realize that 95% of cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate tow, a plastic, and contains more than 12,000 white fibers. These filters take years to decompose.
The butts on the beach are not only unsightly, but toxic to the wildlife and water as well. Filters have been found in the stomachs of birds, fish and other marine animals who mistake the butts for food and are killed by the toxic chemicals in the filters.
There are ways to help keep your beach clean. If you live in Florida, you can attend city council meetings and propose that beaches in your area become smoke-or tobacco-free to help control the litter. If you are a visitor to one of our beautiful beaches, be respectful of nature. Pick up your trash, including any tobacco litter and dispose of it properly.
Eliminating tobacco litter from the beaches keeps beach goers and wildlife healthy and toxin free.