In just the past four years the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has helped nearly 200 marinas around the country tackle the problem of cigarette litter, and it is now looking for marinas on the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay to apply for a $500 grant to cover the cost of ash receptacles, portable ashtrays and signage. Marinas on these bodies of water have until May 30 to apply at www.BoatUS.com/foundationcigarettesurvey.
Past participants have achieved an amazing 50% average reduction in the amount of cigarette litter, which ultimately would have ended up in the water. This year’s program also aims to capture plastic cigar tips that seem to be popping up more often.
The program is a partnership with Keep America Beautiful, a nationwide non-profit organization that encourages individuals to take greater responsibility for improving the environment in their local community. With funding from Phillip Morris USA – an Altria Company, RAI Services Company and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Keep America Beautiful provides each marina with a $500 cash grant to purchase the cigarette ash receptacles and a supply of portable ashtrays for use on boats. Marinas are asked to install the receptacles, distribute the portable ashtrays, and educate their customers about the importance of proper disposal.
Many assume cigarette butts break down over time. However, most cigarette filters are made from a plastic-like material, cellulose acetate. When tossed overboard or washed into storm drains, creeks and waterways this material can last for decades harming fish and other wildlife. Marina operators also like the program because it keeps their grounds clean, making the marina more attractive. Once the butt receptacles are in place, customers embrace the program.
“We had some participating marinas say that the amount of cigarette butts is now almost nonexistent, which helps their business and the environment,” said BoatUS Foundation Vice President of Environmental Programs Susan Shingledecker.
Image courtesy BoatUS