No ifs or butts – it’s toxic littering

Cigarette butts are causing a litter problem.
Cigarette butts are causing a litter problem.

I recently attended Westminster Hall in London as a newly appointed ‘litter ambassador’ for Keep Britain Tidy.

A total of 100 people were appointed across the country. We all shared our experiences and ideas to tackle the problem.

On August 29, Keep Britain Tidy announced its new campaign #BinTheButt, It’s Flicking Blue Murder. I didn’t realise until then how harmful cigarette butts are to our wildlife and marine life.

They are the most common form of littering in the world. Not only do they cause some of the largest and most destructive fires, but they cause significant damage to marine life.

Cigarette filters are made up of thousands of chemicals, including arsenic, lead and nicotine. Studies have shown that just one cigarette butt per litre of water is highly toxic to fish, even killing them.

Yet 22 per cent of the British population think putting one down a drain is acceptable. This rose to 52 per cent amongst daily smokers.

So let’s dispel some common myths.

Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. Once down a drain, they get passed into streams, rivers and eventually the sea. They do not get filtered out by sewerage works. They are toxic and even fatal to marine life.

It is not socially acceptable to throw a cigarette butt on the ground. We need to get the message out to all smokers – bin it, don’t chuck it.

A big thank you to the 16-year-olds taking part in National Citizen Service. On August 22, 10 of us litter-picked along Percy Drive and out of Amble along the A1068 to the Hauxley road ends. We collected 10 sacks of roadside rubbish. Brilliant work.

Thank you to all who turned out at Hauxley Fun Day on August 27. LitterBugs had a stall and got children to make cards and messages to send to Michael Gove, Environment Minister. We asked what he was doing about the plastic crisis. We hope to publish his response.

World Clean Up Day is September 15, and it is the Marine Conservation Society Great British Beach Clean from September 14-17.

LitterBugs is organising a clean-up of Amble beaches and dunes from 11am on September 15. We meet in the car park next to the old cemetery in Links Road. We will then cover Low Hauxley beach at 2pm, meeting on the access to the beach from the village. Equipment is provided.

Contact us on Facebook under LitterBugs.

Alternatively, email litterbugsnorthumberland@gmail.com