Did you know that cigarette butts are the number one most-found item in international coastal clean-ups? In fact, over 25 years of cleanups, approximately 25,907,756 cigarette butts have been collected by conservation volunteers. Second to cigarettes are food wrappers and containers and then plastic beverage bottles and plastic shopping bags.
How did all that junk get into the ocean?
Trash flows into our oceans through household drains, storm drains on the street, littering and dumping. Once the rubbish makes it to the sea, it circulates and accumulates into garbage patches. There are five main garbage patches in the world which have formed due to ocean gyres. A gyre is a sort of whirlpool—a place in the ocean where currents carrying garbage come together from all over the world. When the currents meet, they trap debris in place and create enormous trash islands that we’ve named garbage patches. The North Pacific Garbage Patch is so big—it’s nearly twice the size of British Columbia and has roughly 3.5 million tons of trash.
What can we do about it?
Join us for a Cleanup! This Fall, Science World is once again teaming up with Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to make our shoreline a safer and cleaner place for people and wildlife. At a cleanup earlier this year, we prevented 2,700 cigarette butts from going to sea, where they could have been eaten by fish or birds. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup was initiated by the Vancouver Aquarium and is a division of the International Coastal Cleanup. Over the past 21 years, Canadian cleanup events have helped to prevent hundreds of thousands of bottles, cigarette butts, food wrappers and other waste products from making it to sea.