Posted by: martinworster | June 27, 2012


I am a member of Surfrider – a non-profit charity that promotes Ocean based climate and environmental issues. Every month they organize a beach clean up where you meet up and head off with bag in hand to pick up litter (trash) from the beach. All good, positive tree hugger stuff. As I regularly surf I constantly see the type of litter and rubbish that turns up on the beaches. Whilst out in the water I will scoop out plastic (bags, balloons, sweet wrappers) that I find in the sea and tuck it into my wetsuit sleeve.

Surfrider started a campaign targeting cigarette butts. Of course, anyone who discards cigarette butts anywhere on a beach (or street, field, forest anywhere) should be ashamed of themselves. But I don’t like how cigarette smokers are persecuted here. But then again, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised in the original HQ of anti-cigarette smokers. To be honest, when I am on the beach I don’t see many cigarette butts. They are damaging as they are made out of non-biodegradable plastic and contain toxins and should be kept out of the water. But I definitely see much more other types of rubbish – mainly plastic based – than I do cigarette butts.

At the beach clean up event one of the organizers on the stand had a glass container full of cigarette butts. I don’t follow why this group of the population are singled out and it seems to be further smoker persecution? All types of litter are no good and should be kept out of the natural environment. We could do a campaign to target eaters of ice creams. Or one against sweet eaters. At the next meet up the organizer could have a jar full of Snickers wrappers or Target bags if we want to get more niche on our victimization. I don’t think smokers should be targeted like this. Arguably it’s things like plastic bags that really should be stopped as sea life can easily eat them and get them wrapped up in their guts. Or trapped in them.

One thing I constantly see washed up is deflated helium balloons that have been let go by children inland and then blown out to see. Graduations, toddler birthdays, weddings, Valentines – these balloons are used for all sorts of events and more often than not will end up discarded to float off into the atmosphere. Maybe at the next clean up we should do a campaign against balloons targeting infants birthday parties?


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