Volunteers remove 5,000+ cigarette butts from Alki Beach

Seal Sitters and volunteers collected more than 5,000 cigarette butts from Alki Beach on June 13. Photo by Eilene Hutchinson

A cigarette butt is tossed on the beach. It’s not biodegradable. It can take up to 15 years to decompose. During that time it leaches cadmium, arsenic and other poisons into the earth. It may be ingested by a toddler, bird or fish. At Seattle Parks and Recreation, we’re trying to prevent that situation, and we’re thankful for our community partners joining in the effort.

On Saturday, June 13, Seal Sitters led an Alki Beach cleanup with more than 80 volunteers. Seal Sitters is an all-volunteer group dedicated to the protection of marine animals and their urban habitats in Puget Sound. After a brief educational program led by PAWS Wildlife and NOAA Fisheries, the volunteers scanned the beach picking up litter and debris.

In less than two hours, the volunteers picked up more than 5,000 cigarette butts along with other trash. Passersby gave the group kudos as they walked by and some people signed up on the spot to pitch in.

Seal Sitters partner with Seattle Parks to provide volunteer trainings, beach cleanup events and educational activities in parks.

As of July 6, 2015, all Seattle parks will be smoke-free. Through this effort, Seattle Parks hopes to reduce litter, promote healthy lifestyles for youth, and create a welcoming environment for all visitors to City parks and beaches.

For more information on Seattle’s smoke-free parks, visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/smokingban/.