Cigarette butts are polluting the ocean more than plastic straws

Cigarette pollution on the beach
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We all know that plastic straws are massive pollutants especially for oceans. But what you may not know is that the cigarette butts are actually outnumbering the grocery bags and plastic bottles that you can find in our planet’s oceans and seas.

How does this affect the environment?

To put things into perspective, around 60 million butts have been cleaned by the NGO since the 80s and it’s safe to say that millions are thrown in our planet’s waters every year. Even if they seem harmless at first, the reality is that cigarettes and butts in general tend to have toxins and these are eaten by fish. As you can imagine, all these toxins are coming back to our bodies when we eat fish. So just because we think cigarette butts are harmless, that’s not really the case.

All those unwanted substances like arsenic, lead and nicotine are coming into oceans and seas, and that’s certainly very bad for all animal species, regardless of their size. It’s great that we are combatting the use of plastic, but the reality is that you can find even more cigarette butts in our oceans when compared to plastic. There’s no competition here, all of these need to be removed from oceans as fast as possible, as they are detrimental for all flora and fauna.

What can we do?

Even if we try to clean our oceans from this type of pollutants, the problem mostly comes from its source. And that’s people who find smoking an addicting process. Smokers find this task liberating and it gives them a sense of freedom. But is it ok to offer that sense of freedom and the cost of polluting waters? Not at all, as you can imagine it’s very problematic and it’s the type of issue that we really have to deal with right away. Otherwise we will have to suffer the consequences.

It’s great that voluntaries are going on many beaches in an effort to remove plastic and cigarette butts. Swimmers are also trying to remove plastic and other pollutants from oceans. But removing cigarettes from our lifestyle or finding alternatives is extremely important. Because as you can see, these pollutants end up back in our lives and they bring in various health problems, be it cancer, heart issues and so on.

This is the right time to act against such pollutants, and the faster we do so, the better it will be. It’s definitely very challenging to deal with pollutants, especially when we barely have control over them. But something as simple as cleaning beaches and putting all cigarettes butts that we can find in trash cans does make a lot of sense. It won’t fully solve the problem, but it’s certainly a start. And in this situation we really need to find a way to rally together and solve such a problem as fast as possible. If we don’t do that immediately, then we will have to suffer the consequences.

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