Ocean Beach ashcans cut down on cigarette litter

Surfrider says they still find plenty on beach

If you're still addicted to cigarettes but you're within easy reach of a place to dispose of that nasty stub, there's a good chance you're in Ocean Beach.

Since launching the “Hold On To Your Butt” campaign in 2007, Surfrider Foundation has installed roughly 150 ashcans outside apartment buildings, bars, restaurants, and other businesses throughout San Diego County. Of that total, nearly one in five are stationed in Ocean Beach, said Dukes Wooters, coordinator of the Hold On To Your Butt campaign.

"That really is an amazing feat, compared to the rest of San Diego County,” Wooters said at a recent Ocean Beach Town Council meeting. Surfrider installs ashcans at a subsidized rate of $125 or $150, depending on size. The person/business that buys an ashcan also gets a key to empty it from the bottom. (Property owners may request ashcans at Surfrider's website.).

Once installed, cigarette litter in the area decreases by 65 percent, Surfrider says. Cigarette butts are one of the most pervasive and foulest components of the litter stream; every year, nearly 5 trillion cigarette butts are improperly discarded worldwide, Surfrider says. They leach toxins when wet and take up to 25 years to decompose.

Though the community has embraced the ashcans in a big way, there's no reason for Obecians to get all uppity about it: a recent Surfrider-sponsored beach cleanup along Sunset Cliffs yielded roughly 6000 cigarette butts, Wooters said.

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This is good. Great, in fact.

However, a reminder of how one San Diego nonprofit was mainly in the business of ripping off neighborhood property owners is the purchase, by the Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation, of $400 ashcans.

Oh gee! You can actually get cheaper ones?

Of course they could have bought them cheaper (the $400 didn't even include the shipping/tax from Pennsylvania, from a company called Keystone Ridge), but since they were spending property owner MAD assessments, they wanted to spend as much as possible. They bought 15, for $6000 + shipping.

The thousands of property owners in South Park and Golden Hill neighborhoods were forced to pay for them, all so that the GGH CDC could place them in commercial areas, in front of the restaurants and shops that the GGH CDC wanted to please. And some of the GGH CDC owned those businesses. Nice.

Oh well. The court ruled the Golden Hill MAD illegal. No more Golden Hill MAD. Won't ever happen again...will it?

Great article Tony. I'm SO bummed about the butts on the beach. Yes, it is the one thing we've found the most of during the beach clean ups.

Disgusting habit and there are smokers who are considerate, but why are they so few and far between? In my mind, I think they don't care enough about their health to stop smoking, so maybe they have an attitude of not caring about polluting the earth too?? Just a thought.......

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