Georgian Bay Forever is helping to spread the message about getting beaches Butt Free. This environmental campaign will help reduce cigarette butt litter from Wasaga Beach by providing a way for smokers to responsibly dispose of their butts, through local beach clean-ups, and education on the harms around cigarette butt litter. Cigarette butts are the most commonly littered items on our beaches; they are toxic; they cause water pollution; and are harmful to society, wildlife and our environment.
The program is being planned and coordinated by the Environment Network (EN) and their collaborators, Environmental Defence, Ontario Parks, Healthy Community Network, Town of Wasaga Beach, and Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation (LHCCC).
Cigarette butts when buried on the beach, can stay in the sand for decades and may eventually wash into the Lake. Cigarette butt filters are designed to remove toxins from tobacco while the cigarette is being smoked, leaving each butt with up to 165 chemicals. Sixty of these are carcinogens such as arsenic, formaldehyde, chromium and lead. Research has shown that these chemicals will leach into the surrounding environment, particularly when wet – which is highly likely at the beach. Nicotine, a known insecticide, has been shown to have lethal effects on aquatic life. They have also been recovered from the stomachs of wildlife such as gulls and fish. Data from the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up shows cigarette related litter to be 45% of all litter items removed from Lake Huron shoreline in 2014.
The project will be introduced at Beach Area 5 through beach clean-ups, interpretive signs, recyclable beach ashtrays, beach butt receptacles, posters and advertising. Recyclable, custom printed beach ashtrays are hollowed out cones that smokers are able to stick in the sand and use to extinguish their butts in while at the beach, which can then be recycled.
The official launch of the project will be on July 21, 2017, in coordination with Healthy Parks Healthy People Day in Wasaga Beach. The day will have all participating groups speaking on behalf of their organizations, as well as volunteers and activities to engage community members throughout the day. There will also a beach clean-up at beach area 5 in order to help promote the project and better engage volunteers and the community. For more information: