Group send message that coast is ‘not an ashtray’

The Brunswick News

May 22–The only butts Lea King-Badyna wants to see on the Golden Isles’ beautiful beaches this summer are y’all’s — planted on a beach towel in the sand and soaking up the fun.

Unfortunately, past and present experience shows that nasty cigarette butts will be far more prevalent on our beaches, not to mention our parks, waterfronts, piers and marshlands. Discarded cigarette butts are easily the most-littered object, locally and on the national level. Through outgoing tides, storm drains, and other flowing avenues our tossed butts inevitably end up in our oceans, lakes, rivers and inland waterways. These butts are poison to turtles, fish and other marine life, either when accidentally eaten or from contact with the toxins that leach out from within.

KGIB has banded together with their fellow organizations in Georgia’s six other oceanfront counties to remind smokers that “Georgia’s Coast is Not an Ashtray.” The summer-long campaign will take steps to make it more convenient to do the right thing and dispose of your cigarette butts properly. The effort also will include public service messages on radio, social media and other avenues to spread the word about the dangers the tiny-but-toxic butts pose to our marine life and other critters.

“We encourage folks to come out and enjoy the beach and our other great coastal outdoor areas,” said King-Badyna, Executive Director of KGIB. “But we want to remind everyone that cigarette butts are toxic litter. When they get wet, carcinogens will leak out and become a hazard to our environment.”

Keep America Beautiful has provided a $15,000 grant to assist the event, which will run from June to August in the Golden Isles as well as Tybee Island, Savannah, McIntosh, Liberty and Camden counties.

“Joining forces across Georgia’s coastal region to address cigarette litter in a project of this magnitude is huge,” King-Badyna said. “We aim to positively impact Georgia’s coast regarding cigarette litter and serve as a guidepost for other coastal communities around the nation.”

Locally, more cigarette butt receptacles will begin showing in public areas near our waterways. KGIB also will be handing out pocket-size butt cans, as well as cup-holder sized butt cans for vehicles.

Public service radio announcements will run throughout the summer months, and posters reminding folks that “Georgia’s Coast is Not an Ashtray” will be placed prominently in participating businesses.

“We want to spread the the message in public spaces near the water, where recreational activities also are enjoyed,” King-Badyna said. “We want to help make the connection that cigarette butts need to be disposed of properly for the protection of our precious and unique environment here in the Golden Isles.”

For more “Georgia’s Coast is Not an Ashtray” program info, contact: Keep Golden Isles Beautiful, info.kbgib@gmail.com or 912-279-1490.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Waterways Council, Inc.