Guess How Many Cigarette Butts Volunteers Picked up from CT Beaches

Save the Sound releases statistics about how much of what types of trash got scooped up in volunteer beach cleanups in 2013 — yes, they count each item!

Kids cleaning a beach in Maryland (file photo from Edgewater Patch in Maryland)
Kids cleaning a beach in Maryland (file photo from Edgewater Patch in Maryland)
17,562 cigarette butts were picked up by volunteers getting rid of trash at Connecticut beaches in 2013, according to Save the Sound.

The Connecticut environomental project (part of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment) recently released statistics on trash pickups at volunteeer events held along the coast, including the cigarette butt statistic, among others.

Yes, they count them. Individually.

They also counted food wrappers (5,774), tiny pieces of plastic (6,003), and tiny pieces of styrofoam (3,273). 

The most frequent item of trash, by a long shot, is the cigarette butt. Other  items fouling the state's beaches are plastic grocery bags (826; other plastic bags: 1,416) and fishing lines (2,611).

According to Save the Sound: "In 2013, 1,554 citizens participated in cleanups at 44 Connecticut beaches. They filled 453 bags with 8,756 pounds of trash, covering 68.95 miles of the state’s shores." 

Here's most of the news release:

Today, Save the Sound released its 2013 coastal cleanup data, in conjunction with Ocean Conservancy’s release of worldwide data from the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) last fall. 

Save the Sound has coordinated the ICC cleanups in Connecticut for 12 years, helping to keep Long Island Sound’s beaches safe for people and wildlife. 

“Each year, we’re inspired by the dedication of our volunteers who take to the beaches, alongside thousands upon thousands of others across the globe, to ensure beaches and marshes everywhere are healthy for people and wildlife alike,” said Leah Lopez Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs at Save the Sound.


Cleanups spanned the Connecticut coastline from Greenwich to Mystic, with groups including Friends of Parks, schools and religious organizations, rotary clubs, environmental and civic groups, scout troops, and more all participating. 

“One need look no further than the Pacific Garbage Patch, which is nearly twice the size of the United States, to understand that marine debris is a massive problem; locally our beaches and marshes are choked with plastics, cigarette butts, tires, and more—all of which threaten wildlife and can hurt beachgoers” said Schmalz. 

“As disheartening as the problem is, the power of community and citizen action is incredible—families and friends joining together as environmental stewards and pledging to reduce the pollution at its source by properly disposing of trash and recycling. Thanks to their efforts, we have cleaner beaches, healthier oceans, more protected wildlife, and a more beautiful planet.” 

Around the world, the 2013 Cleanup picked up over 12 million pounds of trash, with nearly 650,000 volunteers in 92 countries walking over 12,000 miles of shoreline. ICC data provide the only global picture of plastics and other marine debris polluting the oceans. 

The result helps the public, researchers, and government officials tackle ocean pollution at the source. Top offenders include items like straws, cigarette butts, plastic bags, bottle caps, and beverage containers.

Ocean trash threatens our economy, environment, and health. Connecticut municipalities have to spend money every year on daily beach cleanups, and marine debris endangers and damages commercial and recreational boats — it can entangle and kill ocean wildlife, and can expose them to dangerous levels of toxins if they consume it. The toxic chemicals can then be transferred up the food chain to humans.

Gerald M. Gaynor May 27, 2014 at 02:06 PM
They may have picked up the ball but looking at the amount of new garbage that I see each day on my morning walk they should have picked up the trash...
John Asmar May 27, 2014 at 10:11 PM
REVMAN you are correct i lost my health care benefits under the obama care . But i was told i could keep my plan. Can i blame him for that it is true you know. I no longer have insurance.
Igor May 28, 2014 at 09:49 AM
John was Obama at the beach and we missed it?
Bonnie Erich May 28, 2014 at 04:38 PM
Theresa, Cigarette Butts are the biggest physical pollutants in the world. End to end, cigarette butts can encircle the earth at least ten times. The subject has been "litter", and that's what I commented on correctly. Air pollution is another catagorie, and I agree both are extremely critical to the health of our planet, and both need immediate attention.
JYD May 28, 2014 at 11:39 PM
There are many responsible smokers out there who don't litter, and there are non-smokers who do. We vacation on the beaches in the Carolinas that are pet friendly. No litter and no animal waste... Because it appears people give a damn and violators are held accountable. This is a regional issue among us, because it's not a problem in other areas of the country. And, yes, it is political. As long we keep electing the same people over and over again at the local and state level, the lack of accountability will continue.


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