Firstly, a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who attended the Welcome Week Beach Clean. It was amazing that so many volunteered their time to give back to the community.
Due to the massive increase in awareness of plastic pollution, the beach didn’t have a massive amount of rubbish on it. However, we still managed to fill a large bag with rubbish in the short time that we were out.
Amongst this we collected a large quantity's of cigarette butts, these might seem small and relatively harmless, but they can cause damage to aquatic and land wildlife, particularly in the numbers in which they are currently found. Cigarette butts are the most littered item on the planet (4.5 trillion annually as of 2015). Some beach-goers dispose of their filters directly on the beach. In other instances, cigarette butts are carried by the rain into rivers, then into other bodies of water, and finally into the sea, where they are carried back to the beaches by the waves.
Cigarette filters can take anywhere from a few months to several years to decompose, dependant on conditions. During decomposition toxic chemicals captured by the filter are released. Some of these substances include nicotine, arsenic, ammonia and formaldehyde. These discarded cigarette butts are consumed by various sea creatures and wildlife, which can then cause the chemicals to enter the food chain.