Plastic straws have been getting a lot of attention lately, with many businesses and even cities opting to replace them with paper straws in an effort to reduce pollution.
While there is no doubt that plastic straws are bad, another major polluter continues to fly under the radar.
Coastal Technologist Tineasha Brenot with the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation says that she is still seeing a lot of cigarette butts on area beaches, in transition spots, and everywhere she goes.
She says that last year during the "Great Goderich Shoreline Cleanup" alone, over 2,000 cigarette butts were collected -- part of over 700 pounds of trash that volunteers helped collect.
Brenot says cigarette butts contain up to 4,000 different chemicals and over 400 toxins and contain a plastic called cellulose acetate, which, like many plastics is very slow to break down. A typical cigarette butt can take anywhere from 18 months to 10 years to decompose, depending on conditions.
When asked why she thinks so many people throw cigarette butts on the ground, Brenot noted that cigarette butts are ''socially acceptable litter''.
She says that smokers need to stop treating the ground like an ashtray, and encourages you to speak up if you see someone throw their cigarette on the ground.
To learn more about the harmful effects of pollution and get involved with conservation efforts, please visit: https://www.lakehuron.ca/