For Immediate Release: July 21, 2017

Campaign aims to get the butts off of Wasaga Beach

The Butt-Free Beach campaign educates beachgoers about the problem of cigarette butt litter on beaches

Wasaga Beach, Ont. – There is a new initiative to keep the butts off of Wasaga Beach. The Butt-Free Beach campaign, a partnership between various environmental organizations and Ontario Parks, kicked off today with a beach cleanup where volunteers removed cigarette butts and other litter from the beach.

“Cigarette butts are the most-littered items on Canadian beaches,” said Brett Tryon, Blue Flag Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “Even when beaches are cleaned every day, cigarette butts are too small for most beach cleaning equipment to pick up. They take many years to decompose, they leach toxic chemicals into the sand and water, and they are hazardous to wildlife.”

“Ontario is home to world-class beaches, including here at Wasaga Beach,” said Kathryn McGarry, Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “Protecting that ecosystem is a crucial piece of how we keep these beaches world class, and I am proud to see Ontario Parks taking part in the Butt-Free Beach campaign.”

Cigarette butt litter is not only an environmental concern, but is also a health concern. One cigarette butt can contain over 4,000 toxic chemicals, such as cadmium, lead and arsenic. 70 of these chemicals are linked to cancer.

“Beaches are living ecosystems, not ashtrays,” said Rhiannon Moore from the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation. “There’s a common misconception that cigarette butts are biodegradable, but they actually take up to 10 years to break down. We need to do a better job of keeping them off our beaches.”

Cigarette butts can also hurt local economies. The litter increases costs for street sweeping, park and beach maintenance, and storm drain cleaning. These costs are passed on to the community.

The good news, however, is that this problem is easy to solve. With a few simple actions, smokers can enjoy the beach without being litterbugs.

“There are responsible ways to butt out. You can dispose of your butts properly by putting them in a cigarette butt receptacle or using a disposable ashtray,” said Tryon. “Together, we can all do our part to keep our beaches clean and beautiful.”

To learn more about the Butt-Free Beach campaign visit: buttfreebeach.ca

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is the Canadian Operator of the Blue Flag Program. Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

ABOUT THE LAKE HURON CENTRE FOR COASTAL CONSERVATION (lakehuron.ca): The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation was founded in 1998 with the goals of protecting and restoring Lake Huron’s coastal environment and promoting a healthy coastal ecosystem.

ABOUT ONTARIO PARKS (ontarioparks.com): Ontario Parks is responsible for the management and operation of provincial parks.  There are over 335 provincial parks in Ontario; more than 110 of these are operating parks that offer facilities for visitors.

ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT NETWORK (environmentnetwork.org): The Environment Network is a non-profit organization working with communities, the public, and all levels of government to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment, including the natural, physical, social, economic and cultural environments.

ABOUT GEORGIAN BAY FOREVER (gbf.org): Georgian Bay Forever is a charity dedicated to scientific research and public education on Georgian Bay’s aquatic ecosystems. Our mission is to protect, enhance, and restore the aquatic ecosystems of Georgian Bay, often referred to as Canada’s sixth Great Lake.

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For more information, or interview requests, please contact:

Allen Braude, abraude@environmentaldefence.ca , 416-323-9531 ext. 247, (cell) 416-356-2587