The Butts Out Story, in Chronological Order
- • Aug 14, 2011 – At around 11:00 AM, Seth Matson introduced the program to the Chapter “EC/CORE Volunteers, Have a look at what Surfrider San Diego is doing for Cigarette Butts. This would be a great thing for our chapter to do for HB as well. Anyone interested in taking command on something like this?
- • By noon, Don MacLean responded with “I’m thinkin that this cigarette thing is right up my alley, because I hate the *%&#@^! things with a passion, and I’m sick of the disgusting mess they pose throughout our community.” Don sent an e-mail to the San Diego Chapter for more info.
- • Aug 17, 2011 – Julie Wartell, the Surfrider San Diego Hold On To Your Butt (HOTYB) Campaign Coordinator responded back, and gave us the first of many messages of what they do, and how they do it. This info served as the initial information that sent us in the right direction.
- • Aug 22, 2011 – Don mentioned to Tony that “[San Diego] provided me with lots of info, and there are some more inquiries I need to make, but this seems like a pretty cool program. “In any case, I’ll keep moving along with this, and I’ll work on establishing a game plan as to how we can make this a reality. I’ll keep you posted.
Tony Soriano, the Chapter Chairman responded shortly after with:
The flagship element to the HOTYB was going to be the installation of metal cigarette disposal canisters that could be mounted to utility poles or other places along the street and sidewalks. With much help from Julie Wartell and Roger Kube from the San Diego Chapter’s HOTYB program, Don began the process of taking existing program information and tweaking and transforming it into programs specific to the Huntington Beach/ Seal Beach Chapter.
While Don MacLean was busy trying to make inroads with the City of Huntington Beach to gain approval for the installation of the pole-mounted cigarette canisters, it became apparent that this was not going to be a slam dunk. A lot of time was spent contacting the various City departments and the Business Improvement District (the entity responsible for maintaining downtown Huntington Beach). One of the first tasks was putting something together showing what the problem was, and where the problem areas were.
On March 21, 2012 – We received approval to install the first 4 canisters
along Main Street in Huntington Beach as a “Pilot Program.
While the primary focus was on the higher profile task of getting cigarette canisters mounted on Main Street, other HOTYB program elements were also being pursued. On Dec 5, 2011 – After researching for pocket ashtray alternatives, we made the purchase of the first 500 aluminum tins to give away to smokers as “pocket ashtrays”, and to start introducing our new program to the public.
Then came the T-Shirts…
… and bumper stickers.
While we were establishing a foothold with the cigarette canisters on Main Street, the “Hold On To Your Butt” program was also focusing on The Huntington Beach/Seal Beach Chapter’s beach clean-ups. Don came up with the idea to hand out small bottles to designated “butt collectors” and members of the groups provided all of their cigarette butts to these collectors so we could get a better tally on the scope of the problem.
During our second outing, nearly 2,000 butts were collected, and ever since, the “butt collectors” have become a big hit, and has been very effective is demonstrating the depth of the problem.
Don MacLean at the Hold On To Your Butts Beach Clean-up table, which is always a popular and eye-popping attraction at our beach clean-ups, and other environmental events we attend.
Miss Earth, Washington
As time went on, the program received the full blessing of Huntington Beach, and through perseverance, we were able to start a pilot program in Seal Beach, who also approved the program and has now assumed all maintenance of the canisters. We now have roughly 120 canisters throughout both downtown areas, at several hotels, and at numerous bars and local establishments. It is also important to mention that the purchase of many of the canisters was made possible by grants received from Keep America Beautiful’s Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, which has generously supported Surfrider Foundation efforts for nearly 3 years, and helped fund the program in its early stages when help was needed the most. KAB has also provided us with 400 Car Ash trays which we also give away at beach clean-ups and other community events.
Another aspect of the program is the Cigarette Butts Recycling Program. Surfrider Foundation provides recycling buckets to the people responsible for emptying the canisters, and when a bucket is full, they call us and we come swap out full ones with empty ones.
Overall, our records show that over 1/5 of a million butts have been sent to the recycler, but this number is well under what has actually been collected. Some of our partners have taken a while to get used to the concept of cigarette butts recycling, so many of our butts have unfortunately gone to the landfill, which is still better than the beach.
The butts are recycled by a company called “Terracycle” and they pay for the shipping, so the service is no cost to Surfrider Foundation. The butts are used as mulch (the paper and tobacco portion) while the filters (which are actually cellulose acetate, a type of plastic) are processed into a different for a plastic that is used to make pallets, flower pots, and you guessed it… ASH TRAYS!
In addition to implementing the program throughout the Chapter’s district, the Hold On To Your Butts team has assisted several other out-of-state Chapters in getting a program up in running, with the most successful of those efforts being the Surfrider Foundation Chapters in Vancouver Island, Canada.