We love our beaches so it drives us nutty to see them covered with litter.

“Covered?” Somebody might say. “The word ‘covered’ seems a little extreme.”

Sad to say, that’s the truth of  the state of our urban beaches. I wrote about a recent beach cleanup at Vancouver’s Wreck Beach, organized by Surfrider Foundation, an international non-profit group that has dedicated itself to protecting oceans, waves and beaches since 1984.

It was a drizzly day in January so I didn’t expect to see much in the way of garbage because I figured it had been a few months since hoards of humans had been using the place. Boy, was I wrong.

Large pieces of trash that included metal piping, thick coils of rope, old lawnchairs, and rusted barbecue parts were hauled up those 500 steps from the beach to the road by some passionate volunteers. These same volunteers roped up a designated area to pick up cigarette butts. This area was about the size of half an ice rink and guess how many butts were picked up? Five thousand!

 

As volunteers picked up cigarette butts in the area (clean-ups are done in a specific-sized area so data entry parameters remain consistent) and, when they looked back to see their footprints in the sand, long-buried butts would pop up to the surface. Astonishingly, there is a designated smoking area on the beach with a container for butts nailed to a post with the hope people use that, instead of treating the beach like a giant ashtray.

Cigarette butts make up most of the litter on our Lower Mainland beaches. And side from just being ugly litter, they're dangerous as the toxins in the cigarettes leach out when exposed to water and then threaten marine life. It’s not just butts that are stubbed out on the beach; it’s butts that are left carelessly on the sidewalk and are flicked out of car windows that are flushed into catchbasins and storm drains when it rains. It’s litter, and it’s toxic.

SeaLuxe is passionate about our oceans, we’re passionate about keeping them clean, and we want to give back to nature since nature has given so much to us. We’re proudly hosting our own beach clean-up this summer, and you are invited. Please check back here soon for more details (or sign up for our newsletter)!