The Surfrider Foundation, known for organizing frequent beach cleanups, is launching a campaign at San Francisco’s Mission Dolores Park this evening against the littering of cigarette butts.
Surfrider’s “Hold on to Your Butt” campaign aims to generate awareness about the environmental and health impacts of littering cigarette butts.
According to the foundation, cigarette butts are the most littered object in the world, with 1.69 billion pounds worth of cigarette butts ending up as toxic waste in 2014.
The foundation said that is equivalent to 555,555 Toyota Prius automobiles.
According to the non-profit Keep America Beautiful, about 95 percent of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that does not degrade quickly and can persist in the environment.
Cigarette butts trap toxic chemicals and can be accidentally ingested by small children or animals, according to the Surfrider Foundation.
Cigarette butts that get left at Dolores Park can leach arsenic, nicotine, and heavy metals, such as lead, copper, chromium and cadmium, into the soil. These toxic chemicals can inhibit plant growth over time, according to the Surfrider Foundation.
Once the butts make it into waterways, they threaten water quality and marine life with the toxic chemicals.
The campaign kicks off today with a 20-minute community cleanup at Dolores Park.
The cleanup will begin at 5:30 p.m. on the south side of Dolores Park, which is bordered by 18th and 20th streets and Church and Dolores streets.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News