Coastal Clean up kicks cigarette butts
STILBAAI Miranda van Aardt and a group of volunteers had their first Stilbaai Coastal Clean Up for the year on Sunday 6 January. They started at Skulpiesbaai and walked through to the turnaround point. Van Aardt said: “We mostly found pieces of plastic that washed out from the ocean, fishing gear - mostly rope and lines and most of all cigarette butts. Cigarette butts are the most commonly littered item around the world today due to lack of awareness on the smoker’s part.” Empty beer, ciders and other alcoholic beverage bottles was also a big concern. Van Aardt added that the core of most cigarette filters, the part that looks like white cotton, is actually a form of plastic called cellulose acetate. By itself, cellulose acetate is very slow to degrade in the environment. Depending on the conditions of the area the cigarette butt is discarded in, it can take 18 months to 10 years for a cigarette filter to decompose. But that is not the worst of it. Used cigarette filters are full of toxins, which can leach into the ground and waterways, damaging living organisms that come into contact with them. Most filters are discarded with bits of tobacco still attached to them as well, further polluting the environment with nicotine, which is poisonous. Volunteers where Lucka Smith (photographer and micro-plastic finder), Rhoana Vrey, Jim and Charline Horak Brennan.
From the left are Rhoana Vrey, Miranda van Aardt, Jim Brennan and Charline Horak Brennan.