Americans are getting their butts out of the water

Why is she smiling? Catherine Yellin of Clearwater Municipal Marinas, FL, shows some of the cigarette butts her marina has prevented from washing into local waterways.
BoatUS Press Room
Americans are keeping their butts out of the water - and we're not talking about the kind in swim trunks. In just the past three years, the BoatUS Foundation has helped 117 marinas around the country tackle the problem of cigarette litter, and it is now looking for more marinas to join its 2012 Cigarette Litter Prevention Program.

Marinas have until April 6 to apply here. If selected, they will receive a $500 grant to cover the cost of ash receptacles and a supply of portable ashtrays.

'Just last year, 43 participating marinas saw an amazing 50% average reduction in the amount of cigarette litter - which ultimately would have ended up in the water,' said BoatUS Foundation's Director of Environmental Programs Susan Shingledecker.

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, Keep America Beautiful provides each marina with a 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 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 amount of cigarette butts is now is almost nonexistent, which helps their business and the environment,' said Shingledecker.

About the BoatUS Foundation: The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is a national leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating. Funded primarily by the half-million members of BoatUS, it provides innovative educational outreach directly to boaters and anglers with the aim of reducing accidents and fatalities, increasing stewardship of America's waterways and keeping boating safe for all. To make a tax-deductible donation to this 501(c)(3) nonprofit, go to www.BoatUS.com/foundation.